By Rebecca M. Blank and William McGurn

Cover of the book
Editions:Paperback: $ 19.99
ISBN: 9780815710219
Pages: 151
ISBN: 9780815796282

"In the great tradition of moral argument about the nature of the economic market, Rebecca Blank and William McGurn join to debate the fundamental questions—equality and efficiency, productivity and social justice, individual achievement and personal rights in the workplace, and the costs and benefits of corporate and entrepreneurial capitalism. Their arguments are grounded in both economic sophistication and religious commitment.

Rebecca Blank is an economist by training and describes herself as 'culturally Protestant in the habits of mind and heart.' She has also chaired the committee that wrote the statement on Christian faith and economic life adopted by the United Church of Christ. Addressing market failure, for her, requires that sometimes 'freedom to choose' give way to other human values.

William McGurn, a journalist and a Roman Catholic, uses his expertise in economics to reflect on the teachings of the church concerning the morality of the market. For McGurn, humans reach their fullest potential when they are free from the constraints of others. He writes that 'our quarrel is not so much with Adam Smith or Milton Friedman but with the Providence that so clearly designed man to be his most prosperous at his most free.'

Is the Market Moral? grapples with the new imperatives of a global economy while working in the classic tradition of political economy which always treated seriously the questions of morality, justice, productivity, and freedom."

Reviews:Scott B. Rae on Journal of Markets and Morality wrote:

"Though they both approach the market through the lens of Christian faith and thus have much in common, they also evince some significant differences. These differences give rise to fruitful discussion. Rebecca Blank is an economist and comes to questions of the market from her tradition, which she describes as “culturally Protestant in habits of mind and heart.” Most readers will likely identify her views as typical of mainstream Protestantism. William McGurn is the chief editiorial writer for the Wall Street Journal and for years lived in Hong Kong while covering Asia for the Journal. He is Roman Catholic. [...]
In contrast to many religious leaders, both authors view the market quite favorably. Blank is more worried, however, about the limitations and failings of the market, and thus sees more reason for government to intervene, both to correct market failings and to alter market outcomes. McGurn sees government more as the problem than the solution, is skeptical of government’s ability to correct market failings, and suggests that altering outcomes is not part of government’s role. Though he is not a libertarian, he clearly has a more optimistic view of the market and a more pessimistic view of government than does Blank. That is the heart of their disagreement—and hence the heart of their dialogue in the final two essays. [...] This volume is ideal reading for students and business people who are interested in seeing how faith informs economic life. It provides plenty of useful material both for those seeking an introduction to the issues and for those who have thought about them for some time."

Additional Info

Table of Contents

  • Introduction (E.J. Dionne Jr, Jean Bethke Elshtain & Kayla M. Drogosz)
  • Viewing the Market Economy Through the Lens of Faith (Rebecca M. Blank)
  • Markets and Morals (William McGurn)
  • A Reply to McGurn (Rebecca M. Blank)
  • A Reply to Blank (William McGurn)
  • Creating a Virtuous Economy (Rebecca M. Blank)
  • Creative Virtues of the Economy (William McGurn)