Adam's Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology
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Adam's Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  35 ratings  ·  4 reviews
This book could be called The Intelligent Person s Guide to Economics. Like Robert Heilbroner s "The Worldly Philosophers," it attempts to explain the core ideas of the great economists, beginning with Adam Smith and ending with Joseph Schumpeter. In between are chapters on Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, the marginalists, John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, an...more
Paperback, 265 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Belknap Press (first published September 30th 2006)
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Chris Byron
This book was just okay. Foley starts with an interesting theory. He calls his theory Adam’s Fallacy, and he believes all economists that follow in Adam Smith’s footsteps, of believing that the market can be separated from other aspects of life, and that private interest pursuits in the market leads to a better life for all, are fallacious claims. I agree with him on both counts. However, he’s also writing a book that he says, in the introduction, is supposed to be an introduction to economics f...more
Rowland Bismark
"Adam's Fallacy" is, for Foley, "the idea that it is possible to separate an economic sphere of life, in which the pursuit of self-interest is guided by objective laws to a socially beneficent outcome, from the rest of social life, in which the pursuit of self-interest is morally problematic and has to be weighed against other ends."

In Adam's Fallacy he presents a history of political economy which both avoids this mistake and critiques its manifestations.

Foley focuses on a few key figures. Chap...more
Glenn Murphy
Although I literally fell asleep on several occasions while reading this book, it was an interesting read. Just kind of dry. Foley starts from the premise that the one idea that Adam Smith is most remembered for is based on a fallacy. "The logical fallacy is that neither Smith nor any of his successors has been able to demonstrate rigorously and robustly how private selfishness turns into public altruism." Foley covers the basics of the writings of Smith, Malthus, Ricardo, Marx, Veblen, Keynes,...more
A couple of years ago there was an Atlantic article "The Market as God" which parodied the similarity between theological treatises and the comments about the movement of the bond market. And David Stockman once said that he wanted to come back as the bond market. Duncan Foley's book warns that economics is neither good nor bad. It just is. If there are value-laden decisions to be made, we must find other sources to make choices. Economics will not tell you.
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