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Economic Morality and Jewish Law

Overview

Economic Morality and Jewish Law compares the way in which welfare economics and Jewish law determine the propriety of an economic action, whether by a private citizen or the government. Espousing what philosophers would call a consequentialist ethical system, welfare economics evaluates the worthiness of an economic action based on whether the action would increase the wealth of society in the long run. In sharp contrast, Jewish law espouses a deontological system of ethics. Within this ethical system, the ...

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Economic Morality and Jewish Law

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Overview

Economic Morality and Jewish Law compares the way in which welfare economics and Jewish law determine the propriety of an economic action, whether by a private citizen or the government. Espousing what philosophers would call a consequentialist ethical system, welfare economics evaluates the worthiness of an economic action based on whether the action would increase the wealth of society in the long run. In sharp contrast, Jewish law espouses a deontological system of ethics. Within this ethical system, the determination of the propriety of an action is entirely a matter of discovering the applicable rule in Judaism's code of ethics.

This volume explores a variety of issues implicating morality for both individual commercial activity and economic public policy. Issues examined include price controls, the living wage, the lemons problem, short selling, and Ronald Coase's seminal theories on negative externalities. To provide an analytic framework for the study of these issues, the work first delineates the normative theories behind the concept of economic morality for welfare economics and Jewish law, and presents a case study illustrating the deontological nature of Jewish law.

The book introduces what for many readers will be a new perspective on familiar economic issues. Despite the very different approaches that welfare economics and Jewish law take in evaluating the worthiness of an economic action, the author reveals a remarkable symmetry between the two systems in their ultimate prescriptions for certain economic issues.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Of overriding importance in Orthodox Jewish practice are the rules pertaining to the behavior of man to his fellow man. This has its origins in the Bible, and was later extensively developed in the Talmud, starting some 2,000 years ago. The late Rabbi Professor Aaron Levine was undoubtedly the world's foremost authority on the relationship between this literature and modern economic thought. This book therefore promises to become the classical reference on this subject."—Robert John Aumann, Professor Emeritus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 2005

"By bringing to economics a distinct moral tradition-that of Jewish law as it has evolved over the centuries-Levine offers deep insights into economic theory."—Robert J. Shiller, Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics, Yale University

"Aaron Levine was a fine economist. But his delight was in the Law of the Lord, on which, judging from the depth of his scholarship, he surely meditated day and night. The eight essays collected here explore the deep connections between traditional Jewish law and modern welfare economics. They stand as testimony to this outstanding scholar's commitment and insight."—Benjamin M. Friedman, William Joseph Maier Professor of Political Economy, Harvard University, and author of The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199826865
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/16/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

The late Aaron Levine was the Samson and Halina Bitensky Professor of Economics at Yeshiva University. A leading authority on Jewish commercial law, he published widely on the interface between economics and Jewish law, especially as it relates to public policy and modern business practices. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brooklyn College, Dr. Levine earned his Ph.D. in Economics from New York University and was ordained in Jewish civil and ritual law at the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. He was a member of the World Jewish Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Irving M. Bunim Prize for Jewish Scholarship. In 1982, Dr. Levine was respondent to Milton Friedman in the Liberty Fund symposium on the Morality of the Market.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
A Tale of Two Sermons (Derashot): Jewish Law's Deontological Ethics at Work
The Sale of the Birthright and the Bilateral Monopoly Model
The Coase Theorem as Treated in Jewish Law
Price Controls in Jewish Law
Reviving Yehoshua b. Gamla's Vision for Torah Education
Aspect of the Lemons Problem as Treated in Jewish Law
The Living Wage and Jewish Law
Short Selling and Jewish Law
Glossary
Name Index
Subject Index

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