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Licence to be Bad: How Economics Corrupted Us

Jonathan Aldred

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Hardback

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Allen Lane
18 June 2019
Business & Economics; Economic theory & philosophy; Behavioural economics
Over the past fifty years, the way we value what is 'good' and 'right' has changed dramatically. Behaviour that to our grandparents' generation might have seemed stupid, harmful or simply wicked now seems rational, natural, woven into the very logic of things. And, asserts Jonathan Aldred in this revelatory new book, it's economics that's to blame.

Licence to be Bad tells the story of how a group of economics theorists changed our world, and how a handful of key ideas seeped into our decision-making and, indeed, almost all aspects of our lives. If, now, we're happy to accept that there can be a market in anything, from queue-jumping to health and education, and to prisoners 'upgrading' to a better class of cell - though we may still draw the line at a market for babies - we have these theorists to thank.

From the logic of game theory, developed in the paranoid world of mathematical-military think tanks in the Cold War, which became the economists' paradigm of rational choice; to the emergence of 'free riding' - cooperation as irrational, because if you do it, no one else will - and the incentivising social engineering of Nudge, Aldred reveals the extraordinary hold of economics on our morals and values.

In short, economics has corrupted us. But if this hidden transformation is so recent, it can be reversed. Licence to be Bad shows us where to begin.
By:   Jonathan Aldred
Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 31mm
Weight:   536g
ISBN:   9780241325438
ISBN 10:   0241325439
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   18 June 2019
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jonathan Aldred is a Fellow and Firector of Studies at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Reviews for Licence to be Bad: How Economics Corrupted Us

Every generation of economists has a thoughtful critic who is too good to be dismissed. Aldred has the understanding and acumen to play that role for the current generation ... Essential. -- Choice Magazine, on THE SKEPTICAL ECONOMIST An entertaining, wide-ranging and often challenging argument. Aldred writes exceptionally well and there is much here to agree with ... It's impossible to do justice to the sheer range of issues tackled. -- Paul Johnson * Literary Review * This an important and timely book, the best I have recently read on the subject of 'whither economics? -- Robert Skidelsky, author of Keynes: The Return of the Master and, with Edward Skidelsky, How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of modern economics, where behaving badly is not just normal but definitely smart and even virtuous. In this highly enlightening and hugely entertaining book, Jonathan Aldred guides us through these badlands, revealing its pitfalls, quicksand, and quagmires. It is going to change the way in which we understand many modern debates about economics, politics, and society. -- Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism and Economics: The User's Guide [A] fascinating assault on modern economic orthodoxy... It is a call for us all to put aside our prejudices - some of which have been invented for us, decades ago - and ask, is this what we need? Is it even what we really want? -- Tim Stanley * Daily Telegraph *


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