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Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya SenVolume I: Ethics, Welfare, and Measurement$
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Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239115

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239115.001.0001

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The Good Life and the Good Economy *

The Good Life and the Good Economy *

THE HUMANIST PERSPECTIVE OF ARISTOTLE, THE PRAGMATISTS AND THE VITALISTS, AND THE ECONOMIC JUSTICE OF JOHN RAWLS

Chapter:
(p.35) Chapter 3 The Good Life and the Good Economy*
Source:
Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen
Author(s):

Edmund S. Phelps (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239115.003.0004

The humanist thinkers from ancient Greece onward asked what sort of life gives the deepest satisfaction and arrived at arresting insights. Aristotle started it off with his thesis that the highest good is the pursuit of knowledge. Like conceptions can be seen in Cervantes, James, and Bergson. Another variant is represented by Voltaire, Dewey, and Sen. These humanist insights into the life that most people desire show how and why enterprising, innovative economies appeared once countries could afford it. The humanists' good life also takes us toward a justification for an economy of entrepreneur-based innovation. It wasn't just the falling way of restrictions and the establishment of property rights that sparked capitalism: it was a widespread desire for problem-solving and exploration. Some say capitalism is inherently unjust to workers in the bottom rungs. But capitalism has, over its history, widened economic inclusion by creating jobs and pulling up low-end pay far beyond what east European socialism and west European corporatism normally achieve.

Keywords:   Aristotle, capitalism, dynamism, final good, good life, good economy, highest good, humanism

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