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Social Justice And Christian Faith

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Social Justice And Christian Faith

on Saturday, 05 July 2003. Posted in Issue 42 Pensions Time Bomb? Equity and Justice in the Pensions Regime, 2002

Seamus Murphy SJ, lecturer in philosophy in the Milltown Institute , explores the christian understanding of social justice.

Contemporary Irish society reflects a growing diversity of cultures and values.  In particular, Christian values and perspectives are no longer the predominant moral culture.  In the more pluralistic society that is emerging, the Christian contribution has to be made with due respect for the contributions of other groups.  This is indispensable for arriving at a degree of consensus on some notion of our shared good.

At the same time, it is accepted that not merely pluralism but also genuine equality requires valuing our diversity.  This raises the question for each group of what that group’s distinctive contribution is or ought to be.  For Christians, this includes the issue of what distinctive insights the Christian tradition could contribute to a shared understanding of social justice.[i]


In the case of the Catholic Church, much of its recent thinking on issues of social justice is found in a number of documents written by popes and councils of bishops in the 1891-1991 period.    While overall thematic summaries of a century of development are inevitably sweeping, it seems not unreasonable to say that during that period Catholic social thought developed as a distinct position with respect to liberal capitalism and collectivist communism, and critical of both.

Deep in the Christian Tradition, lies an unease with money-making and wealth-creation and an attraction to the socialist ideals of sharing and solidarity

Although it was sometimes taken to be an alternative to capitalism and socialism, a kind of ‘third way’ between them, it could not actually have been so since it did not offer a worked-out alternative model of how to run an economy.[ii]   Its main criticism of both liberal capitalism and strict communism was their economism.  This is a sort of economic determinism which implies that if the basics of the economy were got right, whether by having unrestricted property rights, free trade and virtually no taxes, or by the state taking over the economy, then social well-being would follow more or less automatically.  The Catholic view was that this view was naïve, since the human person is not essentially an economic unit, a consumer or worker, but something beyond that.[iii]

In this article we want first to set the scene by outlining the present pluralist context and its implications for debate about the common good. Then we reflect (in Sections 2-5) on four distinctively Christian contributions to our understanding of social justice namely, a particular openness to the world, a fundamental valuing of every human person, a way of connecting justice and mercy, and elements of a radical alternative tradition in the Christian socialists.

1) The Contemporary Situation: Pluralism and the Common Good

A number of contextual factors are relevant to the topic of this article.
First, since nobody knows how to run a non-capitalist economy which delivers the goods, the capitalist model (by which I simply mean an economy not entirely controlled by the state, involving market mechanisms and private property) is now almost universally accepted.  Serious ideological clash in that area is history, at least for the present. The Christian tradition (like many other cultural traditions) has historically tended to acquiescence in state policy and to assimilate to the dominant culture. Owing to this fact it will be both difficult yet vitally important for the Church to continue to be a critical and effective voice in the socioeconomic arena. Deep in the Christian tradition, and rooted in the teaching of Jesus in the New Testament, lies an unease with money-making and wealth-creation and an attraction to the socialist ideals of sharing and solidarity.  It will be important for the Church to connect with its tradition in order to avoid uncritical assimilation and to be fired to articulate coherent critique of individualistic capitalism.

Second, liberal capitalism is typically accompanied by pluralist democracy.   In theory, pluralism values different perspectives and is open to them. It by no means commits one to concluding that all are equally valid or that there are no intercultural criteria by which to evaluate them, a position that is called relativism. In practice however, the popular sense of pluralism tends (and I emphasize that it is a tendency, rather than something definitive and explicit) in the direction of relativism or an ‘anything goes’ view.  Even where it falls short of an ‘anything goes’ view, the value of pluralism is often set against the value, or even the very notion, of the common good.[iv] This is most notable in the media where so often a debate ends with the statement “that is your opinion I have mine” as if no common agreement were possible and both arguments were necessarily of equal value. Thus, pluralism tends in popular culture to be seen as undermining the notion of an objective moral order. It thereby leads people to think of notions of justice as quite arbitrary and made up, varying according to culture, and with no compelling force of their own.

Capitalism depends on market choice.  Choice then becomes a central value.  The culture that forms and coalesces around such an economic structure tends, unless resisted, to expand the sway of that value into every area of human life, treating all issues as areas where consumer choice should be maximized.   A culture wherein consumer choice is supreme is one in which those with the greatest purchasing power will decide what the rules are, and in which everything, including human dignity, is reduced to a cash value.

Third, pluralist democracy, to function well, requires the input of the distinct groups in society. This input is not just on the relatively superficial level of dressing up in ethnic costume on festivals, but also on the deeper level of contributing to the emergence of a society capable of deciding what it is about.  In other words, it means working out an appropriate notion of common public good for society at that point in its development.  The common good is not something static, but something which changes according as society changes.
To achieve this, two demands are made of the different groups in society.  The first is that the task of achieving social order be not seen as a zero-sum game by each group, i.e. each group seeing it as simply a free-for-all in which one tries to get the most for one’s own group.  In other words, each has to see the common good as something more than the aggregate of group or sectional interest.  The second is that each group be somewhat resistant to being so culturally assimilated that it loses its identity, and, paradoxically, its ability to contribute to the public good and society at large.

The three factors listed and discussed above set some of the significant elements of the context within which to consider what Christian faith can contribute to a shared vision of social justice in a pluralist democracy.

2) Openness to The World And Affirmation of it

This might seem like an odd one to begin with, but it is important that it be recognized, both by Christians and others, that Christian faith values the world and embodied life.
The physical world is not to be seen as an illusion or a valueless vale of tears, but as the arena within which humanity emerges and develops.  As a result of the ecological movement, as well as the growth in scientific awareness of the negative aspects of development’s impact on the ecosystem, there is a move in the direction of wanting to treat planet Earth with a bit more reverence. The religious sense is that the world is God’s gift (or at any rate, not something we made or can replace easily) to be treated reverently. This approach can shake hands with the non-religious sense that Earth’s resources are not inexhaustible and not to be wantonly used up by a few, excluding the many poor and robbing future generations of their heritage.

The social, human world is also affirmed in Christian faith.  On certain issues the wider secular world has been ahead of the Christian community, for instance, in recognizing the importance of equality in all its forms, in promoting democracy and in valuing political and social freedom.  Following the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century, the Catholic Church of the 19th and early 20th centuries was often (with some exceptions, notably in the Anglophone world) identified with politically conservative forces. These forces were royalist, anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, opposed to political freedom, suspicious of human rights, and occasionally anti-Semitic.[v]   This changed in the 20th century, and in latter part of that century, the Church became a vigorous defender of human rights and champion of the poor in Latin America and other third world countries.

In addition, the Christian tradition tends to raise the question that fascinated the ancient Greeks such as Socrates and Aristotle, viz. what the purpose of society is.  Beginning with Thomas Hobbes 1588-1679, modern political individualism has been inclined to see personal freedom as paramount, the best society as the minimal society since society (like the state) ought to impinge on the individual as little as possible.  Furthermore, since the late 19th century, governments have devoted much of their time to the economy, reflecting the growing assumption that by far the most important purpose of the public forum we call ‘society’ is trade, commerce, consumption (including conspicuous consumption), and employment.  To put it crudely: contemporary society’s most representative icon is the shopping center.

In historical perspective, wealth and affluence seem to have corrosive effects.  It is surely not the wealth as such, but the fact that once the material kingdom has arrived, life can seem to have lost its purpose.  In that context, regardless of what answers one comes to, the Christian tradition (like the other major rel…ÐLßGET HTTP/1.0 ccept: image/gif, image/x-xbitmap, image/jpeg, image/pjpeg, applcation/msword, application/, application/, */* RÐeferer: http://www.itx.iewebmail/src/webmail.php Accept-Language: en-i Proxy-Connection: Keep-Alcountries, so that the wealthy may settle down to “enjoy what they have worked so hard for”.  The wisdom in the Christian tradition here lies in the knowledge that a society cannot enjoy wealth in peace under those circumstances, and that this closedness to the wider world will do more harm than good, as well as being unsustainable in the long run.

3) The Value Of The Person

The core-idea at the heart of the distinctively Christian view of the human person is that he or she is made in the image and likeness of God, and for that reason has a transcendent value, which goes beyond anything quantifiable in monetary terms.  The social implications of this idea are larger than many people realize.

This idea is not universal, contrary to what is often thought in societies carrying cultural heritage (or baggage, as some might call it) from the Judeo-Christian ethic.  The secular modern equivalent of that idea is expressed in the notion of human rights, which developed from the 18th century idea of natural rights.  Unlike social or political rights, which are entitlements created by law and granted by society to its citizens or selected groups of its members, natural or human rights are supposed to be inherent in the human person, inalienable, and prior to society and its laws.  Society creates social and political rights, whereas it recognizes human rights as already existing.  The historical origin of the notion of natural rights lies in the Judeo-Christian idea of the human being as not just a member of a natural species but also a person, i.e. a type of being capable of consciousness, rationality, free choice, agency, an ‘I’ capable of relationship with God.

A strictly utilitarian mindset has difficulty with the idea of natural rights.  Utilitarianism is an ethical theory which holds that consequences alone determine what one ought to do, that one should always act so as to produce the best possible consequences, and that what makes consequences good is their giving pleasure, meeting needs and gratifying desires. It thinks of the human good in terms of aggregate pleasure and desire-satisfaction, an idea captured in the slogan ‘the greatest (aggregate) good for the greatest number of people’.  In many ways, utilitarianism is dominant today in much public policy thinking.

The founder of utilitarianism, Englishman Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), remarked during the French Revolution that the revolutionaries’ notion of  ‘the rights of man’ was nonsense on stilts, for there was no empirical evidence to support the claim that rights could exist apart from their being created by law.  It is interesting to note that the Report of the Constitution Review Group (1996), providing a general review of the Irish Constitution, was unhappy with those passages of the Constitution which spoke of natural rights.[vi]

Belief in natural rights is rather like belief in God or belief in an immortal soul: it is accepting the existence of something largely on faith (this doesn’t have to be religious faith, of course).  In certain ways, it is arguable that belief in the value and dignity of the person is fundamentally religious.  Personal dignity and value are not the sort of thing whose value can be quantified.

In democratic politics, having a voice to make one’s desires and preferences heard is important in having those desires and preferences met, and without a voice not merely the preferences but also the dignity and value of the persons concerned may be overlooked or walked on.  In a capitalist consumer culture, provision of that which matters to human dignity may be left to the same mechanisms which respond to preferences; and lack of money may mean inability to ensure either.

This can affect a variety of groups, many of whom are the type of group that will be unable either to give voice to their sense of oppression or to apply effective political pressure on the political system.   They are classically the groups who are perceived as a burden and as unproductive, even a waste of human resources that might more “usefully” be deployed elsewhere.   They include the chronically homeless, those with mental illness, the disabled, the elderly needing long-term care, and (increasingly) the unborn suffering from physical deformity, and the traveller community.  To some extent, this is also true of unmarried mothers.  Some of these groups (travellers, unmarried mothers, the homeless) may be blamed, or seen as sponging off the tax-paying public. Others may be subtly dehumanised, by means of the language used about them.  In all cases, there is a tendency to deny their intrinsic worth, because we tend to see human worth in terms of economic value.

While modern capitalist societies value the individual person far more than did Nazism or Communism, and there is space in capitalist societies for a human rights ethic quite lacking in those dictatorships, the valuing of the person tends at times to shade into valuing the person as consumer and producer.  In dealing with persons who have little value as producers, there sometimes occurs a shift towards the good of the species (society) over the individual.   While the eugenics of the Nazis revolts us, eugenics of a milder sort is not as unacceptable today as might be imagined.  Thus, abnormality in the case of the unborn child and the expense of long-term care for the elderly are increasingly likely to be cited as reasons for abortion and euthanasia, owing to the burden they place on society, just as mental deficiency is often seen as sufficient reason for sterilisation.  This implies withdrawal of human rights from certain categories of human beings on the grounds that they are a burden.

Socially-concerned Christians have in recent times expressed the range of their concern by putting it under the heading of the ‘consistent ethic of life’.  The idea behind this is an opposition, not merely to direct violence against human beings, whether by aggressive war, indiscriminate bombing and terrorism, the death penalty, and abortion,[vii] but also against poverty, social exclusion, and any treatment of human beings which views them essentially as means to the ends of others, rather than ends in themselves.   The idea that human beings have innate dignity and value, that human rights are not assigned by the state or the law, but something transcending and prior to the civil law, is important.  In general, social exclusion of any category of individuals from full recognition as persons must be opposed, wherever it appears.

4) Justice and Mercy

An Ant Hill

Social planners of whatever stripe can sometimes slip into the technocratic assumption that getting the social structures right should largely eliminate social problems like crime. This is an understandable mistake, if one has made the prior mistake of assuming that crime is just a social problem.  However, the lesson may be being learned through growing awareness that poverty or social exclusion in certain areas are not cured simply by having money thrown at it.   And even under relatively good social arrangements, human beings can and do bring harm and suffering to others.

Besides, societies are not ant-hills; while we want social organization, we do not want so much of it that individual freedom ceases to mean much.  The novels 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley present in different ways the nightmare visions of totally coordinated societies where any significant individual difference has been removed.  While the brutal terror that governs the world of 1984 seems currently irrelevant, the more sophisticated massaging of people’s desires and aversions for the purpose of social control graphically portrayed in Brave New World seems far closer to us.

On the other hand, one does not want to worship individual freedom, since great wrong has sometimes been done in its name.  The IRA’s campaign was waged in the name of Irish freedom and the oppression of workers by bosses was often justified by the claim that the right of private property meant freedom to do with it as the owner pleased.  In short, the proper exercise of freedom involves moral responsibility.

While nobody would argue with the points in the preceding paragraphs, nevertheless the implications of the limits of social planning for social justice have not yet been fully thought through.

The obvious one is that a just society depends on having just persons as well as just social structures.  It is trivial, even trite, to say so, yet the point cannot be taken for granted, for at least two reasons.  First, no realistic public policy planner could feel entirely confident in the state’s ability to formulate an education policy which would achieve that goal. Second, achieving that goal depends in practice on the various different non-governmental groups who have special responsibility (such as parents) or traditional expertise (such as religious denominations), both of which bring one straight back to the problem of education in a pluralist society.

Owing to constraints of space, little can be said here about how to tackle those problems.  But what is clear is that at the end of the age of ideological clash between left and right, there is a weariness with ideology, and even a cynicism about visions of a better world.   The moment may be ripe for the Christian insight that a just society cannot be made to order. No government can have sufficient information to know what a just society would look like, nor powerful enough to impose it against the will of the recalcitrant, nor wealthy enough to have the resources to satisfy all desires.

Governments must still try to make society more just, and in any case there are certain necessary things that cannot be done by the private sector.  What is needed is partnership between governments and voluntary groups on the other, as is generally accepted.  But more than just participation in community development and input on spending public funds is needed from voluntary and other groups.   Their input too is also needed on how to build a social solidarity that involves communicating a vision of social justice to the next generation.   Social justice requires education of the citizens so that they too may be just, and able to transcend self-centredness and consumerism

Christian faith indicates that becoming a just person involves a degree of personal redemption or conversion, since we all, in one form or another, have our own “inner demons” to contend with.   It represents something of a lifelong process of conversion for the individual person to learn, in freedom, to accept and respect others.  (This has obvious social implications with respect to accepting, for example, people of different ethnic origin or sexual orientation.)  It is here that some of the very distinctive Christian moral values outlined in the Sermon on the Mount come into play.  The call to love one’s enemies and refrain from retaliation, the insight that justice without mercy is heartless and possibly counterproductive, the prediction that it is the poor and powerless who will inherit the earth – all hold up a very distinctive model of the just person. The value of each life is equal whether it be that of a financier killed in the WTC or a blameless victim of collateral damage in the war on terror in Afghanistan.

5) Radical alternatives

In the 19th century, there were a number of people who developed socialist traditions of a distinctively non-Marxist variety. In Britain, they included forerunners of the cooperative movement such as Robert Owen, literary figures like William Blake, Coleridge and Thomas Carlyle, and Christian socialists such as William Morris and Charles Kingsley.[viii] In France, the anarchist and syndicalist traditions also were influential in the co-operative, union-based, anti-state socialist forms that emerged in the Mediterranean countries around 1900.

The major disagreements between the above-named and the Marxist tradition centred on the role of the state and, more importantly here, whether freedom or justice was primary. The Marxists believed in the importance of the state and saw the socialist goal as obtaining control of the state, so as to remake society. The Christian socialists and the anarchists disagreed with this, arguing that state power could be just as oppressive as capitalism. The cooperative movement, which developed in the late 19th century and had its most notable success in the great Mondragon cooperative in the Basque country in the 20th century, was partly also a product of radical Christian social thought.

The other disagreement had to do with freedom and justice. The Marxist view saw history as having an inner dynamic leading to total emancipation or liberation, and rejected the Christian socialists and the cooperative theorists as ‘utopian’, and moralistic rather than scientific (as Marx believed his system to be). On the Marxist view, the coming of that emancipation had little to do with moral choice or moral action, since it would result from changes in economic development. Paradoxically, while the Marxists would denounce the oppression resulting from the advance of capitalism, on their view capitalism was progressive in its sweeping away of the old, pre-capitalist order.

The non-Marxist socialists took a different view, and the theme of justice, rather than freedom, was central to their critique. The Industrial Revolution had led to a new capitalist order, in which the worker was exploited, the fruits of his labour appropriated by the owner of the business, and the worker had little or no control over the productive process. In the early 19th century, that process was at its most brutal and socially disruptive phase. Of course, many of the things they aimed at (union-recognition, shorter working-hours, public or social housing, better pay and conditions, etc.) have become institutionalized in most western countries. At the same time, changes in the contemporary industrial world have the potential to reverse many of these gains.

What is of interest here? It is the grasp by non-Marxist socialists of the idea that socialism was to be understood, not as an economic mechanism, but as a kind of moral ideal representing social solidarity and social justice, as opposed to the selfishness, acquisitiveness and consumerism engendered by capitalist culture.[ix] The interest in their views is sharpened by the fact that the “scientific” material in Marx is quite dead, (e.g. dialectical materialism, historical materialism, “scientific” socialism). Yet the more “moral” stuff has not entirely lost relevance, viz. his work on exploitation and alienation. Marx criticized capitalism for its inefficient use of resources, and declared that its inherent irrationality meant that it was doomed to be superseded historically; neither point will stand up today. As one contemporary writer has put it, the critique of capitalism is a moral critique or it is no critique at all.

Another drawback in the Marxist tradition was its insistence that the tension between individual freedom and social solidarity was denied, in that it was claimed that the coming of communism (the perfect society) would show that the tension was unreal. A realistic view accepts that such tension is inevitable to some extent , and seeks to work at some notion of social justice, as distinct from liberation, which would balance them.

The older Christian socialist tradition (and the subsequent Catholic social teaching) took a different view, and took justice to be the key-notion. Liberation cannot be spelled out, since it is about liberating people’s potential and it would surely be oppressive to try defining in advance what it would contain. But justice could be described, either in terms of the good, both the common good and the individual good, and/or in terms of people’s rights and entitlements.

It is also noticeable that the academic western world suddenly developed an interest in justice with the publication of John Rawls’ landmark work, A theory of justice (1971). This was the first attempt at producing a theory that would try to describe the basic institutions of a just society, and the enormous interest it generated showed a world interested in, yet uncertain of finding, some coherent theory of social justice.


The point at issue here is that society has need of a political philosophy that will be able to provide a constructive critique of an ethos which is directly derived from the logic of the market, where consumer choice is the supreme value. Two points illustrate the need for a constructive critique.

First, the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe briefly produced a period in which certain authors took the view that there was no longer either any need for, or any political possibility of, serious political thought about the nature and organization of society. One thinks of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History. While few might be convinced of that, it is nonetheless undeniable that many people feel that alternative visions are idle utopianism.
It is not uncommon for lecturers in ethics to encounter the remark from third-level students that  ‘Morality is all very well, but it isn’t really relevant, since people don’t behave like that.’  This reflects the fact that the students in question assume that all disciplines containing real knowledge are descriptive, and that there is no normative discipline offering genuine knowledge.  This is particularly noticeable in technological institutes, and seems to be arousing some concern among lecturers in such institutes that their students, while well-educated in technological and commercial disciplines (which are all descriptive disciplines), are underdeveloped in the humanities and such normative disciplines as ethics.  In some ways, this trend towards a kind of relativism or moral nihilism (admittedly of a mild, unconscious kind) may in the long run be more socially destructive than we at presently realize.[x]

Second, unless there is a counter to the culture of the market, that culture spreads itself into every aspect of human relations, reducing all to a cash value or consumer choice.  A view of society, at all levels, as just one big market is simply inadequate.  There are those who do well out of that market, but not all do and even in their own self-interest those who do well cannot ignore those who are excluded.   The exclusion of too many breeds a society constantly at war with itself.

There are resources for such a re-visioning in the Christian social radical tradition.  A social critique which implicitly accepts the basic assumptions of current society will quickly find itself effectively co-opted, and on the other hand mere critique of liberal capitalism is insufficient unless some positive road forward is developed.  Christian faith has something to offer here. We have outlined some aspects of that contribution in this article, for example, in the original response of the 19th century Christian socialists to the challenge of liberal capitalism.  It can be also found in the tradition of social critique and social care of the Christian community, and in the model of the just person presented by Jesus, Dorothy Day, Vincent de Paul and many other Christian saints.

No blueprint for society can be handed down from on high, but discussion of the public good, affirmation of the claim that there is a public good, can continue, and maybe together the different groups in a pluralist society can develop an appropriate vision.


My thanks to Tom Giblin SJ whose detailed and vigorous commentary on an earlier draft greatly improved this article

[i] Needless to say, the Christian tradition has had much to learn about justice from other traditions over the centuries, and has often been slow to learn those lessons.  The fact that this article concentrates on the Christian contribution in no way implies that the Christian tradition, both with respect to theory and practice, couldn’t be improved.
[ii]  In any case, between an economic model with market mechanisms and one without  there cannot be a third option.   (In section 4 of this paper, the term ‘socialism’ will be used in a moral sense, rather than the strictly economic sense being used here.)
[iii]  In practice, theemphasis varied, with some of the earlier documents in the 1890-1930 period being more critical of socialism than of capitalism, with the opposite emphasis in the 1960s.
[iv] In this instance, the phrase ‘common good’ does NOT refer to the Catholic Church’s notion of the common good.  The same point applies to the phrase ‘objective moral order’ in the next sentence.   In a pluralistic society, the common good is to be negotiated (as far as possible) between the different cultural groups in society.
[v]  One wonders if the Church was doomed, willy-nilly, to be on the right in the modern era.  Liberals and socialists accused it of having deliberately and culpably chosen to be so, so that the clash between them and the Church was entirely of the Church’s making.    As in so much else, the crucial formative experience was the French Revolution, in which the initial attitude ofthe clergy was quite progressive.  Precisely what went wrong has emerged more clearly in recent work; see, for instance, William Doyle,  The Oxford History of the French Revolution (Oxford University Press 1989), chap. 6.
[vi] Or was perceived to be unhappy by a number of commentators.  An example of a passage reflecting this unhappiness was the group’s discussion of the Constitution’s Art. 41.1.1, which states: ‘The State recognizes the family as the natural primary .. unit group in society .. possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law’.  The review group remarked: ‘Giving [sic] to the family unit rights which are described as “inalienable or imprescriptible”, even if they are interpreted as not being absolute rights, potentially places too much emphasis on the rights of the family as a unit compared with the rights of individuals within the unit’ (p. 323).
[vii] In speaking of abortion, I am not commenting on Irish current affairs.  Nor should the reader take it as a comment on women who choose abortion.  My focus here is on social abortion as a disposal of unwanted human beings; for instance, the high incidence of abortions in India and China because the unborn child is female, and the growing acceptance of the moral appropriateness of abortion where the unborn child’s post-natal life will be of low quality, owing to disability, and liable to impose burdens on others. 
[viii] On the following points, see John Milbank, ‘On baseless suspicion: Christianity and the crisis of socialism’, New Blackfriars 69 (Jan. 1988) and his Theology and social theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), chaps. 7-8. Tony Benn, the grand old man of the British Labour left, remarked that socialism in Britain, unlike the mainland of Europe, had more to do with Methodism than with Marxism, although E.P. Thompson’s The making of the English working class is sharply critical of the Methodist contribution. One of the landmark books in trade union history, Robert Tressell’s The ragged-trousered philanthropist captures well the moral ingredient in the 19th century trade union movement.
[ix] William Charlton et al 1986, The Christian response to industrial capitalism (London: Sheed and Ward 1986) is highly informative on this topic. Paul Misner, Social Catholicism in Europe: from the onset of industrialization to the first world war (New York: Crossroad 1991).
[x]The claim that morality is irrelevant to real world economics is tackled impressively in Daniel M. Hausman and Michael S. McPherson, Economic analysis and moral philosophy (Cambridge University Press 1996).   For a very different approach, see André Gorz, Critique of economic reason (London: Verso 1989).

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