FAITH & ECONOMICS
NUMBER 76, Fall 2020
“The Goodness of Tolerance”: The Humanity of Political Economy
Indiana University Bloomington
This paper is part of a symposium organized in cooperation with the AEI Initiative on Faith and Public Life titled: “In the Contemporary United States What Would a Truly Humane Economy Look Like?“
Abstract: A humane society is the product of human action. It cannot,
however, be the product of human design. We explore exactly how a humane society has emerged and how it can continue to flower in the light of some of the unavoidable constraints we face. A liberal individualism rooted in community requires social processes and institutions, such as personal sovereignty, agency, commercial freedom, and religious freedom. These things make possible the human flourishing around us, as manifested in growing literacy rates and technological use. We approach the problem of a humane economy from the perspective of several classical liberals — Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, James M. Buchanan, Elinor and Vincent Ostrom — and especially W.H. Hutt and his concept of “consumers’ sovereignty.” They all emphasized the importance of the ethical consensus at the foundation of any flourishing society. In particular, we explore the importance of tolerance to a humane economy.