Promoting the Common Good (Marcus Braybrooke & Kamran Mofid)

Rev. Marcus Braybrooke and Kamran Mofid, Promoting the Common Good: Bringing Economics and Theology Together Again
(Shepheard-Walwyn, London, 2005)



There was a time when economics was regarded as a branch of theology. 

Economic factors were intimately linked to what was regarded as just or right and these in their turn were shaped by a Christian understanding of the common good. From the eighteenth century onwards economics became an autonomous discipline and this has clearly enabled a great deal of technical expertise to be developed. 

Nevertheless in the end economics is about human well-being in society and this cannot be separated from moral, or perhaps in the end, theological considerations. The idea of an economics which is value-free is totally spurious. Nothing in this life is morally neutral. Although of course there will continue to be a range of   technical, very often statistical and mathematical factors in economics, in the end the subject cannot be separated from a vision of what it is to be a human being in society.

Globalisation has sharply divided people today. On the one hand there are anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation campaigners and on the other hand those who believe that the process of globalisation will solve the world’s economic ills. Both these positions are false. Whether we like it or not globalisation is taking place and will continue to
accelerate. The question is whether the forces at work in the process can be harnessed and made to work for the well-being of human society as a whole.

I very much welcome this book and believe that its themes are of crucial importance for the world today.



The topic which we wish to address here is vast; all we can reasonably hope to do is paint a picture with very broad brush strokes. We will argue that the marketplace is not just an economic sphere, ‘it is a region of the human spirit’. The secrets of a great many economic questions are divine in nature; economics should (in contrast to the way it is practised today) be concerned with the world of the heart and spirit. 

Although self-interest is an important source of human motivation, driving the decisions we make in the marketplace every day, those decisions nevertheless have a moral, ethical and spiritual content, because each decision we make affects not only ourselves but others too

Today’s economists consider their discipline a science, and thus divorced from inconvenient ethical details, the normative passions of right and wrong. They have made their discipline a moral-free zone.
Yet the role of virtue in economics had been extolled since Aristotle. Adam Smith, in the eighteenth century, called human society an ‘immense machine’, and celebrated virtue as the ‘fine polish’ on its wheels. He excoriated vice as the ‘rust’ that causes the wheels to ‘jar and grate upon one another’. Ethical considerations are central to life, he said, and ‘keen and earnest attention to the propriety of our own conduct ... constitutes the real essence of virtue’. Modern economics began as a moral science taught by professors trained in the analysis of ethical contexts and conflicts. Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776) is both a scientific treatise on economic development and a forceful statement about the ethics of markets and distribution of income. Justice is central to his analysis and recommendations. When he elaborates on how global markets can yield greater efficiency, the issue of ‘justice’ arises about once every seven pages. In his earlier work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), Smith depicts justice as a moral concept of right and wrong that goes beyond legality. To him, ‘Justice ... is the main pillar that upholds the whole edifice. If it is removed, the great, the immense fabric of human society ... must in a moment crumble into atoms.’ He accordingly creates a model which allows for the development of moral conscience, and social capital in the form of trust and personal responsibility. This is the now dismissed ethical framework for his famous ‘invisible hand’. That oversight is where modern neo-liberal economics has got it so wrong, bringing the world such a bitter harvest.

This study views the problem and challenge of globalisation partly from economic but primarily from ethical, spiritual and theological points of view. How can we order the modern world so that we may all live well and live in peace? Globalisation must combine economic efficiency with human needs to achieve social justice and a sustainable environment.

We moreover argue for the creation of an ‘ecumenical space’ for dialogue between civilisations, and for the building of community for the common good, by bringing together economics, spirituality and theology.


Foreword by Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford  

Chapter 1:        Globalisation for the Common Good
        by Kamran Mofid        
Chapter 2:        How It All Began
        by Kamran Mofid        
Chapter 3:        A Map of My Interfaith Journey
        by Marcus Braybrooke        
Chapter 4:        The Roots of Economics
        – And why it has gone so wrong
        by Kamran Mofid        
Chapter 5:        Bringing Economics and Theology
        Together Again
        by Marcus Braybrooke        
Chapter 6:        Ideals into Practice:
        Reuniting economics and theology
        by Kamran Mofid        
Chapter 7:        Summing Up
        by Marcus Braybrooke        
Chapter 8:        The Way Forward
        by Kamran Mofid        

Epilogue by Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh        

Where to obtain the Book:

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