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EC233 Aristotle_Notes.docx

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Department
Economics
Course
ECON 2233
Professor
Greene
Semester
Spring

Description
September 5, 2012 • Aristotle: 385 – 322 BC, Greek • Along with Plato, he is considered one of the greater philosophers and founders of thought • Aristotle vs. Plato o Aristotle focuses on data of the conscious idea, “real” philosophy o Plato: ideal philosophy • “Things that cannot be other than they are” o Include rules of mathematics, laws of physics, other concepts that are concrete o However, there are many places involving human action when you have a choice. When you have a choice, you must make moral judgments • Aristotle’s “Ethics”: o Focuses on the individual and the relation o Area of practical wisdom: what is the best way to make a choice? o Aristotle assumes that every action has a purpose and that the final end (for all) is happiness o This begs the question, “what is the best way for a person to live to achieve this final end?”  To answer this, you must look at what makes us human: • 1)Reason: humans are rational animals, reason is our highest faculty o A good human is one that reasons one and thus achieves happiness • 2) Social: No one achieves the best life when isolated o Ex: marriage, one needs companionship o Book 5: Justice, Aristotle distinguishes between general (complete) and partial (special) justice  Chapter 2: Partial justice • 1) Something you created to distribute, partial justice distributes what each individual deserves • 2) Transactions: o Involuntary: (not concerned with economics)  Ex: getting robbed o Voluntary: Deals with economics  Ex: purchase, sale, rental, hire  Can be fair and not fair  Chapter 3: Distribution • Is there economic application? • There is a right way to distribute the profits of a partnership to keep it enduring • Ex: if you have many workers (joint enterprise), should they each be paid the same?  Chapter 4: Rectification: voluntary exchanges • Sale, purchase, hire • You make moral decisions when you make choices  Chapter 5: Reciprocity in Economic Life • If there is a builder and a shoemaker – they should exchange goods • You must determine the rate at which this exchange must take place • This is an example of a reciprocal relation • It must be carried out in a way that is just • Aristotle’s “Politics”: o What is the best kind of political community to live in to be happy? • “Economics” – origins in Greek: o Eikos: Household o Nomos: Rules or Management o Thus, economics is the art of household management o This idea relates the question of how to use what you have to lead the best life to the typical definition of economics (“efficient allocation of scarce resources”) September 7, 2012 (focuses on Aristotle’s Politics) • E Fritz Shoemaker – economist, worked for the English coal board o Small is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered o Counter-cultural book, very interesting chapter on Buddhist economics o To experience Nirvana and be as detached as possible from material consumption o Guide for the Perplexed o “slender truth” • James Shall – Georgetown faculty o Article: what do you do when you’re old? o Shall mentioned Shoemacker • Aristotle: Things that they are other than as they are o Things aren’t necessarily fixed o The two books: Ethics and Politics deal with these practical questions o It would be important to have a way of reasoning o Method: practical wisdom , intellectual virtue that you cultivate with someone of practical wisdom  Certain way of thinking of things, systematic way • Ethics: o Questions you might have in your mind during reading:  Is there any economics in the Ethics? Ex: Analytical economics that we do today? • Reciprocity – basis of proportion, equal ratios • Money was the intermediate – measure of value, way to compare different goods •
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