Polterovich, V. M. (2022). Economic Theory and the Formation of Human Qualities. AlterEconomics, 19(2), 201-211. https://doi.org/10.31063/AlterEconomics/2022.19-2.1
The article argues that economic theory not only takes into account human qualities as factors influencing the evolution and efficiency of economic mechanisms, but also indirectly impacts their formation. Scientific research generates an ideology which economic policies draw from to build economic institutions. Institutions determine the standards of behavior of individuals and consequently influence their qualities. Such a chain of determinants can be illustrated by the case of the Chicago School of Economics, which proclaimed competition as the main driving force for social and economic development. The recommendations of this school contributed to the formation of neoliberal ideology, which over the years has determined both the policy of Western countries and the nature of reforms in transition economies. Neoliberals argued that economic competition does not involve any violation of moral norms, since a perfect market means impersonal rivalry. There is ample evidence, however, that economic and political competition generates a hostile attitude toward rivals, pushing the participants to disregard the principles of morality. In conditions of tough confrontation, economic and political leaders are often willing to defeat their competitors by whatever means possible, while being unable or unwilling to make decisions to improve public welfare. The degradation of human qualities, in its turn, can lead to a decline in the quality of scientific research. These findings provide an insight into one of the causal chains leading to the crisis of competitive institutions observed in Western countries. To struggle with the crisis, they seek to constrain competition and increase the role of collaborative institutions.
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