Many doubt the existence of economic laws, but the once mighty Soviet Union collapsed because the grand theory on which it was based did not accord with the facts of economic life. It was unscientific.
More recently, Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain from 1997-2007, repeated almost like a mantra ‘we will never return to the old boom and bust’ even in his April 2007 Budget speech. Another economic theory proved wrong by the facts.
John Young argues that ‘A true grasp of how the economy should be constituted shows it to be a thing of harmony and beauty, all its parts cooperating for the common good, and its inbuilt laws distributing benefits equitably.’
‘In seeking solutions,’ he writes, ‘we are not reduced to finding ideas no one has ever proposed before. It is rather a matter of perceiving which of the already suggested ideas are correct.’ To aid us in this, he suggests ‘we should look at the nature of the basic realities pertaining to economics’. These include human nature (economics is about people as much about goods and services) and the common good — a moral element.
John Young, like Adam Smith, taught philosophy for many years before turning his attention to economics. He is the author of Reasoning Things Out, an introduction to philosophy, and has had many articles published in magazines and journals around the world.
Keywords: Common good, Economic laws, Philosophy of Economics