Monday, January 04, 2010

On square circles

A quick bit from Thomas Woods before I get back to my books:

The only answer that appears possible is this: the Church insists that thus-and-so must be done because justice demands it, even though it will make people, particularly those it was designed to help, materially worse off. However, no ecclesiastical document I have ever seen has taken this position. As I have said, these documents carry the assumption that their suggestions will accomplish their stated ends and increase the well-being of the least among us. That assumption, in turn, implies that the only thing standing between today and a more prosperous future is sufficient political will rather than constraints imposed by the very nature of things. That merely assumes the very thing that needs to be proven. And it begs the question yet again to declare that authority has spoken and the matter is closed – the very matter at issue is whether these subjects are of a qualitative nature to be susceptible of ecclesiastical resolution in the first place. If the law of returns, for instance, is an objective fact of nature (which it is), then the pope himself cannot declare it to be false, or expect success from policy prescriptions that ignore it, any more than he can fashion a square circle. It is no insult to papal authority to exclude the possibility of square circles.

As far as I can tell, Woods is the foremost Catholic champion of free market economics. I have no idea what kind of success he will have in causing members of the Church to rethink their policies, not because they are not well-intentioned, but because praxeological reasoning insists that their objectives are incompatible with their methods.

Anyone who is interested in the extent to which free market ideology is compatible with Church teaching would do well to read Woods's: The Church and the Market. I do not believe that his position is the only orthodox one--nor do I have any reason to think he believes as much--merely that it is firmly within the bounds of orthodoxy. And if it is true that the continuing economic debacle has shaken man's faith in markets, it is also true that the crisis compels men to ameliorate their ignorance about the economy. The works of Thomas Woods contribute positively toward that end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it.