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Bettering Our Condition

Work, Workers and Ethics in British and German Economic Thought


Philip J. Chmielewski

This study draws on the writings of crucial British (Smith, Ricardo, Marshall) and German (Hegel, Marx, Schmoller) political economists in order to derive a contemporary social ethic appropriate in the economic world and to indicate the requirements for economic concepts instrumental in reaching the common good. The book also discusses the works of two prominent modern figures (Pesch and Nell-Breuning) of Roman Catholic social teaching who explored the relation of principled values to economic analysis. Four interrelated perspectives on working persons guide the examination of these sources: the confrontation of the limits impinging on these workers, their collaboration in society, the use of technology and their service of each other. German codetermination, a significant form of democratic participation, provides a practical test for this treatment of work. The inquiry makes accessible many sources previously untranslated or not easily available. The interdisciplinary investigation concludes with a comprehensive normative theory which sets forth how the working person should stand at the center of discourse about work and its structures.
Contents: Social ethics and work; classical, historical, neo-classical and Marxist economics; Roman Catholic social teaching; codetermination; A. Smith; D. Ricardo; G.W.F. Hegel; K. Marx; A. Marshall; G. Schmoller; H. Pesch; o.v. Nell-Breuning.