Date of Award

Spring 2000

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Hinze, Christine F.

Second Advisor

Copeland, M. S.

Third Advisor

Hinze, Bradford


This dissertation examines the use of economic theory in contemporary Christian social and economic ethics, arguing that the dominant stress on either neoclassical or Marxian economic theory within economic ethics is problematic due to inherent difficulties with religious ethics with each paradigm. I propose two alternative sources of dialogue. The first is social (or humanitarian) economics, a tradition within economics opposed to the religiously suspicious anthropologies of "economic man" in neoclassical economic, yet not tied the Marxian reliance on dialectical materialism or class conflict. The second is the thought of Bernard Lonergan, whose recently published Macroeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis , written originally from 1930-1944, offers an alternative paradigm to neo-classical and Marxian paradigms, and one more in keeping with Christian anthropology. In Part One I critically analyze important selected uses of economic theory in contemporary religious ethics, especially in modern Catholic social thought, examining how incoherencies and conflicts between economic and religious ethical descriptions and evaluations of human behavior and social processes mar the effectiveness of Christian moral argumentation concerning economic matters. Part Two examines the normative or ethical dimensions and commitments of current economic approaches (neo-classical, liberal and Marxian). I also investigate how social economics seeks to integrate views of the human person alternative to economic man and social economics' openness to explicit normative dimensions. However, social economics has not yet provided a powerful enough macroeconomic explanatory paradigm to replace the dominant approaches. In Part Three, I also examine Lonergan's view of the human person and economic agent as an alternative to the economic anthropology in existing economic theory. Furthermore, I propose his critical science of economics as found in Essay in Circulation Analysis as an alternative and more scientifically explanatory macroeconomic paradigm than currently found in any type of economics. In conclusion, in conversation with Catholic social thought, social economics and Lonergan's economic thought, I begin to describe the lineaments of a Christian economic ethics that overcomes these incoherencies and reflects an effective and mutual partnership between economics and religious ethics.



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