The sociologist does economics

Weber, Nietzsche, Sombart, Partnoy, Keynes, yes let\’s go for the name dropping.

OK, so people are not entirely rational in all and any circumstances. Markets aren\’t perfect. Emotions, animal spirits.

Ho hum.

Aesthetics, harmony with nature, the ethics and politics of community – these need to be reasserted as values independent of and superior to market values, which as the Romantics pointed out should be merely means to other ends.

Ah, entirely missing the point.

There\’s no such thing as "market values". There are the values that individual human beings have (or don\’t have you might think on darker days) and markets are one of the ways in which those values interact. But the market, the markets themselves, don\’t have any values at all, they\’re entirely amoral.

If you decide, for example, that your ethics and politics of community mean that you should shop only at your local independently owned retailer, selling only locally produced goods, well, great, fine. That is you expressing your ethics and morals through the medium of the market.

And very good luck to you and all who sail in her.

In short, the market is a mechanism by which we interact and our actions are of course determined partly by our moral senses.

2 comments on “The sociologist does economics

  1. I wonder if the author of that article has read any Werner Sombart.

    “Händler und Helden” ie. “Merchants and Heroes” would be a good place to start.

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