Cover: Adam’s Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology, from Harvard University PressCover: Adam’s Fallacy in PAPERBACK

Adam’s Fallacy

A Guide to Economic Theology

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Product Details


$26.00 • £20.95 • €23.50

ISBN 9780674027299

Publication Date: 04/30/2008

Academic Trade

288 pages

5-1/8 x 7-15/16 inches

7 line illustrations, 1 table

Belknap Press


[A] passionate book, to be welcomed in a discipline notably devoid of passion. [Adam’s Fallacy] can be read for pleasure and enlightenment by economists and non-economists alike.—David Throsby, The Times Literary Supplement

Foley gets deep into the analytical content of major schools of thought, ranking Adam’s Fallacy up there with Heilbroner’s classic [The Worldly Philosophers].—Robert Solow, The New York Review of Books

So what is ‘Adam’s Fallacy?’ …It is the idea that the economic sphere of life constitutes a separate realm ‘in which the pursuit of self-interest is guided by objective laws to a socially beneficent outcome’… Professor Foley’s book is simultaneously an introduction to economic theory and a critique of it. It is his version of the classic introduction for the economically challenged by Robert L. Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers, now in its seventh edition. Adam’s Fallacy concentrates more on the worldly philosophies rather than on the philosophers, on economic theory rather than on the characters and events that along with Mr. Heilbroner’s masterly storytelling gave The Worldly Philosophers so much color and verve… By questioning economic theory’s cordoning off of an economic spheres of life ruled by its own laws and expertise, Professor Foley is implicitly proposing limits to the secularization that is an underlying characteristic of modernity. Secularization has meant that in a cultural transformation, major areas of human activity set themselves up as quasi-autonomous, with their own standards, authorities, and guiding principles.—Peter Steinfels, The New York Times

Duncan Foley has written a fair-minded and very well-written history of economic thinking organized by the theme announced in his title. He contends that economic thinking has been dominated by fallacious attempts to separate positive analysis from moral judgment. This leitmotif has enabled him to create a unified presentation, which will be very useful to the general reader.—Kenneth Arrow, Stanford University

Adam’s Fallacy is a stimulating tour d’horizon of the ideas of the great economists. In clear, accessible prose, Duncan Foley, a noted theorist himself, describes what they wrote and what their work means today, providing an insightful and thought-provoking critique of economics.—Stanley Engerman, University of Rochester

This learned and lively book reconnects economics to the complexities and conflicts of politics and society, and powerfully reminds us that there are no fixed, necessary, or inevitable laws that govern markets. By tracing the history of economic thinking as a form of engagement with values and policies, it also thoughtfully beckons us to grasp together the twin challenges of scientific understanding and moral reasoning.—Ira Katznelson, Columbia University

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