The True Wealth of Nations: Catholic Social Thought and Economic Life

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Roman Catholic social thought has had much to say about economic life: about virtues and moral principles, about individuals, communities, and institutions. Catholic social thought (CST) is a complex body of ideas that has real consequences, well-described by Hans Urs von Balthasar as "symphonic" in its multiple principles and approaches, nonetheless producing an integrated vision. This tradition can best be understood if it is taken most seriously. The authors of the fifteen papers in this collection begin with a fundamental proposition: that the economic and cultural criteria identified in the tradition of Catholic social thought provide an effective path to sustainable prosperity for all. Two papers undertake the challenge of specifying the means CST recommends and the goals for which it aims. Five are historical studies: of the change in worldview from the medieval to the present, of the medieval Franciscan roots of markets, of the empirical impact that Christian democratic parties and labor unions have had on European society, and of the legal and moral analysis of "the unjust contract." Six papers examine CST and the fundamental proposition from diverse perspectives: from Africa, Latin America, sociology, the economics view of women, and eco-feminism. Finally, two papers provide an introductory chapter and a conclusion addressing the question of how practically to think of the potential implementation of CST in a world rarely open to change.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Catholic social teaching by its very nature proposes the general values and principles that should guide economic life. This very well organized, interdisciplinary collection makes an important contribution by convincingly showing that the practical application of this teaching would put us on a path toward a goal of prosperity for all including the poor and marginalized. Anyone interested in Catholic social teaching needs to read this significant book."

—Charles E. Curran, author of The Social Mission of the U.S. Catholic Church: A Theological Investigation

"The True Wealth of Nations presents a provocative thesis: Catholic social thought can help map a path toward economic prosperity for all. Rigorous historical and social scientific evidence shows this claim is plausible. Normative arguments shaped by both Catholic and humanistic convictions show why this path ought to be followed. An invaluable contribution at the intersection of contemporary economic, ethical, and religious thought."

—David Hollenbach, S.J., University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College

"Any book with chapters by Dan Finn, Alberto Barrera, Andy Yuengert, and Stefano Zamagni, among others, is bound to be thoughtful and pioneering. And this book is that and more. Can Catholic Social Thought provide guidelines for an economy that ensures sustainable prosperity for all? The authors claim that it can, and they present this claim in such a way that it can be supported or refuted by empirical evidence. This is a first."

—Charles K. Wilber, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

"...CST contributes significantly to economic prosperity deserves deep elaboration, and this book constitutes an excellent point of departure."—Ricardo F. Crespo, Universidad Austral

"This book is well suited for advanced student and scholars. It may also be helpful and accessible reading for professionals/practitioners...recommended."—CHOICE

"Each essay offers a different perspective on the impact of Catholic social thought as it relates to different aspects of economic policy, application and history."—John Skelley, New Catholic Books

"This volume is a welcome addition to the growing discourse of theology and economics. Not all efforts bring this kind of lucidity and expertise to such a critical area of interdisciplinary research. Given the discourse remains a true dialogue, we can look forward to the insights of the project's coming endeavors."—The Journal of Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199739820
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/23/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor of Theology and William E. and Virginia Clemens Chair in Economics and the Liberal Arts, St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota

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Table of Contents


List of Contributors Preface Introduction

1. What Does Catholic Social Thought Recommend for the Economy? The Economic Common Good as a Path to True Prosperity Albino Barrera
2. What is Sustainable Prosperity for All in the Catholic Social Tradition Andrew Yuengert
3. Catholic Social Thought, Civil Economy, and the Spirit of Capitalism Stefano Zamagni
4. The Political and Economic Impact of CST since 1891: Christian Democracy and Christian Labour Unions in Europe Vera Zamagni
5. Just Contracts and Catholic Social Teaching: A Perspective from Anglo-American Law Vincent D. Rougeau
6. The Unjust Contract: A Moral Evaluation Daniel K. Finn
7. From a Theological Frame to a Secular Frame: How Historical Context Shapes our Understanding of the Principles of Catholic Social Thought Mary Hirschfeld
8. Wealth Creation, Social Virtues: Social Capital's Role in Creating and Sustaining Wealth John A. Coleman
9. What Do We Know about the Economic Situations of Women and What Does it Mean for a Just Economy?
Simona Beretta
10. Truly Africa, and Wealthy! What Africa Can Learn from Catholic Social Teaching about Sustainable Economic Prosperity Paulinus I. Odozor, C.S.Sp.
11. Capital, Spirit, and Common Wealth Jon P. Gunnemann
12. An Ecofeminist Approach to the True Wealth Project Maylin Biggadike
13. Moving from Research to Action: Some Lessons and Directions (From a Catholic Social Ministry Bureaucrat)
John Carr

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