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The Economist, the Rabbis, and Crime



Gary S. Becker, the Nobel economist known for extending microeconomic analysis to nonmarket behavior, has offered an influential theory of crime. His “economic approach” to crime enlarged the concept of a person within the rational choice model but leads him, regrettably, to overestimate what can be accomplished with police and prisons. The concept of a person within Judaism offers a better basis for understanding crime and for fashioning a meaningful response. All persons possess a dual nature with inclinations for good and evil, because they understand that individuals possess neshamah, the breath of God, they rely on the system of restitution provided under Jewish law. Economists are needed in criminology to explore the economic context of restitution.

Paul Knepper, "The Economist, the Rabbis, and Crime," Journal of Markets & Morality 6, no. 2 (Fall 2003): 433-452

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