The Markets, Culture, and Ethics Project’s Third International Colloquium on Christian Humanism in Economics and Business, “Free Markets with Solidarity and Sustainability: Facing the Challenge” conference is coming up this October 22-23 at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC. Academic conferences do not necessarily strive to be attractive or inviting (13 word titles and 13 letter words aren’t really all that “catchy”). But I would encourage anyone who is in the area or who is willing to make the trip to seriously consider attending this one. But why this conference?
First of all, the subject of the conference is central to what we do here at Acton: the integration of faith and morality with economics and freedom and their mutual dependence for human flourishing; if you like what we do here, you will probably find this conference to be to your liking as well. As the conference website notes, “Only free markets can be ethical markets, and only ethical markets can function in freedom.” Similarly, it goes on to note that
there is an inner tension between solidarity and freedom, between benevolence and self-interest, between sustainability and short term success. This tension must be balanced for a proper functioning of market mechanisms.
This is, thus, a very practically-focused conference, asking a very fundamental question: how ought the commandment of love play out in the economic sphere of life? Or, what hath Glasgow to do with Jerusalem? (The answer not being Cologne.)
The second reason to consider this conference is that two of Acton’s very own, Jordan Ballor and Kishore Jayabalan, will be presenting papers. Jordan’s paper is titled “The Principle of Subsidiarity in Reformed and Roman Catholic Social Thought.” His abstract states,
Since the Reformation it has of course been commonplace to juxtapose various Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives on a range doctrines and practices. In the case of subsidiarity, however, narratives of contrast or disjunction threaten to overshadow the broad continuities, albeit amid diversity and variegation, between early modern Reformed and Roman Catholic theologies. We risk, quite frankly, importing later divisions and discontinuities, often arising out of historical contexts and circumstances of much later periods, such as the nineteenth or twentieth centuries, back into earlier periods, and thereby reading into these periods disagreement where there was in fact large scale agreement, if not unanimity.
Kishore’s paper is titled “How Does Competition in the Market Economy Foster Christian Humanism?” His abstract states,
The question of the effects of competition on the human soul will be raised by examining what friendly and unfriendly critics of liberalism have had to say about competition. Is it possible that competition combats, rather than exacerbates, the leveling tendencies of liberal egalitarianism and mediocrity, for instance? How does competition assist or hinder the attempts of the poor to escape their poverty? How does healthy competition deal with the fear of failure and despair? What are the proper objects of human ambition in a free society? The paper will attempt to show how competition fosters certain spiritual qualities that are particular to the lay, as opposed to the religious, vocation, and therefore needs to be better understood, by both the clergy and religious on one hand, and the laity on the other, as complementary with a vigorous Christian humanism.
This is a great opportunity to meet them in person, show your support, hear some great scholarship, and share your feedback.
Register for the event here.