How the ‘A-Team’ Redeems Modern Economics

Redeeming Economics: Rediscovering the Missing Element John D. MuellerISI Books, 2010; 452 pages, $27.95 John Mueller’sRedeeming Economics is an impressive achievement, really three books in one. Mueller rewrites the history of economics in the first book. In the second book, Mueller expands the concerns of economics, in the light of his historical reinterpretation. The third book proposes and critiques public policies through the lens of the theory developed in book 2. Readers of The Family in America will probably be most interested in book 3. But Mueller’s most lasting contribution to the well-being of the American family may well be book 2. His expansion of the concerns of economics has the potential to give economists as well as social conservatives the analytical tools needed to defend the family on its own terms, rather than as a special case of a contract. The scope of Mueller’s intellectual ambition in this book is truly astonishing, as is the scope of the research involved in all three of his projects. The combination of these three books creates an edifice Mueller calls “neoscholastic economics.” As the real challenge for this book will be to get people to read all three “books,” I trust this review will convey a sense of why people should invest the time needed to read, absorb, and promote this important book. Book 1: Rewriting the History of Economics Modern scholars tend to believe that discipline of economics began with Adam Smith. However, this a-historical reading of the subject is corrected by Mueller, who insists that we have to bring on the entire “A-Team” to really grasp the history of economics: not just Adam Smith, but also Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. In this respect, Mueller stands with no less an authority than Joseph Schumpeter, author of the twentieth century’s most comprehensive history of economics. Schumpeter argues that the real founders of modern economics were the “scholastic doctors” of
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