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Review Essay: The Shadow of Constantine and Our Economic Life

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Abstract

The goal of my essay is, in dialogue with Shadow of Constantine and Political Theologies, to demonstrate that political theology needs political economy. I use the latter term, as did Lionel Robbins and the classical economists, to mean the normative and interdisciplinary application of the insights of economic science to questions of policy. As Frank Knight put it, “Without an adequate ethics and sociology in the broad sense, economics has little to say about policy.” In distinction from positive economics, political economy integrates the insights of political philosophy, sociology, and history together with economic analysis and makes no pretense about being value free. While welfare economics has been the preferred normative approach in recent years, classical political economy has continued in the works of many economists from a wide variety of schools within the discipline. It is far less quantitative and far more open to insights from other disciplines, making it a natural point of contact with political theology and Christian social thought. Examining the issues of economic inequality, the democratic nature of business and markets, and religious liberty, I argue that Orthodox and other political theologians need economics and political economy if they ever hope to step out from beneath Constantine’s shadow.

Dylan Pahman, "Review Essay: The Shadow of Constantine and Our Economic Life," Journal of Markets & Morality 20, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 311-323


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