Saturday, May 10, 2008

Economics and the Common Good

Some of the conclusions from the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences:
Selfless protagonists

During the plenary session, the pontifical academy heard the contribution of Michel Bauwens, initiator of the P2P (Peer to Peer) Foundation. His experience relates to the sharing of common goods -- for example, knowledge -- through the Internet. The case reflects a situation wherein a network of persons share freely and receive freely, without an economic motivation.

This is an example, Donati explained, of the importance of understanding the development of a society that produces common goods.

It is about an "interweaving between subsidiarity and solidarity that should be, yes, horizontal in the sense that it regulates relations between people, but which should also have a vertical dimension," he added. Donati affirmed that the state -- though it has a notable role in the production and preservation of the common good -- does not have a monopoly over it.

The professor suggested that current economic theories are insufficient because they "still presupposes a 'homo economicus' interested in acting substantially for his benefit." Even though that theory takes into account "a selfless protagonist," it considers him a figure of little importance. It thinks of the third sector, Donati added, "as a charitable sector, of beneficence, not as a sector that creates common goods."

That's why Donati indicated the necessity of proposing new economic theories and perhaps even a new political theory, citing a tendency toward "a certain return to focusing on the state […] which points again in some way to the strength and the monopoly of the state, something that does not help in the development of the common goods we've mentioned."

Markel, SJ

No comments: