THE REFORMATION OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT DUTCH CALVINIST ECONOMICS, 1880–1948

In: Philosophia Reformata

The first decades of the twentieth century saw the emergence of Calvinist economics in the Netherlands. This clearly normative approach to economics was inspired by Abraham Kuyper and was criticized by mainstream economists from the outset. It would eventually disappear under pressure of positive economics, but survived until at least the middle of the century. Calvinist economics itself was highly critical of classical economics and, unlike the neo-classical school, strove after an entire reformation of economic thought. Calvinists writers like T. de Vries, P. A. Diepenhorst, J. A. Nederbragt and J. Ridder did not constitute a school of economic thought, but nevertheless shared some fundamental ideas such as the influence of world views on economics, the existence of divine ordinances for the economic domain, and the central place of man in God’s plan for the economy. In this article, I describe the rise, sources of inspiration, fundamentals, aim and methodology of Calvinist economics. Although the perspective of this article is historical, this episode from the history of economic thought may inform us about the relationship between Christianity and the science of economics as well as that between economics and the economic crisis.

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