Early scholars, perceiving economics as the praxis of persons, emphasized their obligation to share economic goods, to use them prudently and lawfully and to trade or lend them justly. As notional economics grew and became more complex, scholars like Adam Smith perceived economics as a science of human conduct and relations with its own principles of operation. It reflected the secular, amoral and empirical Zeitgeist of the 19th century, demoting homo economicus into a mere economic agent without moral principles. This book focuses on the human person as a whole self-conscious spirit and a whole material body rather than an economic agent. From this point of view, economic values come under scrutiny. Common practice and ideals are reinterpreted when self-interest melds with "other-interest" to generate economic well-being.
Peter L. Danner is professor emeritus at Marquette University and the author of An Ethics for the Affluent.