By Michael C. Carroll (auth.)
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Extra resources for A Future of Capitalism: The Economic Vision of Robert Heilbroner
Heilbroner willingly strays into areas that most economists find taboo. He enters the realm of the sociologist, anthropologist and historian; sharing terminology, method and outlook. In the end, we will see that his aim is to provide a more comprehensive social understanding and not a prescriptive model of economic phenomena. Before we delve into the complexities of the Heilbroner method proper, I believe it is useful to spend some time examining the economics of 'The Worldly Philosophers'. I begin this chapter with a brief look at what it takes to be considered a Worldly Philosopher.
Heilbroner writes: 'There were among them a philosopher, and a madman, a cleric and stockbroker, a skeptic and a 40 A Future of Capitalism tramp. They were from every walk of life, of every tum of temperament. Some brilliant, some bores; some ingratiating, some impossible' (Heilbroner 1953, 15). While each man was unique, there is one thing they all share. They all 'sought to embrace in a scheme of philosophy the most worldly of all of man's activities - his drive for wealth' (Heilbroner 1953, 16).
None of the worldly philosophers were content to provide only a piece of the puzzle; they offered comprehensive solutions. This is probably the reason why so many automatically link their work with Newtonian or 'natural order' modelling. This type of association is correct if we think of Newtonian modelling as being the doctrine of scientific determinism. That is, the principle that all events are the inescapable result of preceding causes (Canterbery 1987). If you look at the work of Smith, Marx or Keynes one begins to see that each man makes assumptions about human nature and the society's institutional structure, and then extrapolates the system's future.