COMMENT

In: Philosophia Reformata
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In 1998 the book The wealth and poverty of nations was published, written by David Landes, a retired professor in economic history from Harvard. Within a few months more than 50.000 hardcover copies were sold of this best-selling book. In that book, with its 544 pages, Landes tries to answer the question why in some countries and regions the economies are performing well and why others remain backward. Differences in economic performance are subsequently explained by differences in culture and religion. With the West- Europeans and their descendants in the US, Canada and Australia yielding the best performance, his answer is that the capitalist values and Calvinist religion are the main explanatory factors.1 In fact these are the old stories of Adam Smith and Max Weber, but now told by a good writer. Recalling the theme of our session, say ‘Economics within the context of Cultures and Christianity’, I expected a paper which would re-examine (and criticize) the Landes story from a christian philosophical perspective.

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