Category: Publications

The newest issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality has been posted. The publication of this volume fulfills a full decade of production of the journal under the continuing leadership of founding and executive editor Stephen J. Grabill.

This issue of the journal features a scholia translation of Leonardus Lessius, “On Buying and Selling” from 1605. Lessius was a Jesuit theologian considered to be an important figure in the development of pre-Smithian economics by scholars like Joseph Schumpeter, John T. Noonan, and Raymond de Roover. Wim Decock provides both a translation of Lessius’ work as well as an introduction placing him in his early modern context of scholasticism and moral theology.

The articles in this volume are an especially excellent collection, including a piece by Mary Ann Glendon, who was recently named the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, “John Paul II’s Challenges to the Social Sciences.” Other contributors include John R. Schneider (Calvin College), Dr. Donald P. Condit (a medical doctor), Pamela Z. Jackson (Augusta State University), Jonathan E. Leightner (Augusta State University), John Meadowcroft (King’s College London), Edward J. O’Boyle (Mayo Research Institute). Dr. Condit’s article is of particular contemporary relevance, as he inquires, “Should Business Be Responsible for Employee Health Care?”

We also have a number of excellent reviews of recent books, put together under the direction of our book review editor Kevin Schmiesing. And as per our “moving wall” policy of two issues, the most recent publicly-available archived issue is volume 9, number 2 (Fall 2006).

If you are a student or a faculty member at an institution of higher learning, please take the time to recommend that your library subscribe to our journal. If you are in interested layperson or independent scholar, please consider subscribing yourself.

Today’s post will look at the Hendrickson Publishers Academic Catalog 2008 and the Brill Biblical Studies & Religious Studies 2007 catalog (series index):

Titles from Hendrickson:

Titles from Brill:

Blog author: kschmiesing
Friday, January 4, 2008
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Having been informed that my evaluation of George Weigel’s new book was posted a few days before it went on sale, I gladly give notice once more, this time with a link to Amazon. Well worth a look.

The University Bookman, a publication of the Russell Kirk Center, reviews Dr. Samuel Gregg’s The Commercial Society: Foundations and Challenges in a Global Age in its Fall 2007 issue. Actually, the Bookman reviewed it twice.

Reviewer Robert Heineman, a professor of political science at Alfred University in New York, described the book as an “exceptionally well written volume” that should be read by anyone concerned about human freedom and progress.

Heineman has this to say about Gregg’s discussion of democracy in the book:

As he so aptly notes, in a democracy, a majority is considered authoritative; whereas, this is definitely not the case in commercial enterprises. Moreover, in democratic politics, the ability to exercise self-restraint is far more difficult than it is in the business world. Interests are continually importuning their representatives for more largesse or other benefits, usually at the expense of commercial enterprises. The trend, then, is inherently toward bigger, more restrictive government, perhaps even arbitrary government. As Gregg shows, Wilhelm Roepke argued persuasively that the expanded welfare state contains disincentives for the kind of behavior—self-discipline, hard work, saving—that is important to commercial activity.

Thomas E. Woods Jr., author of The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, had this to say about The Commercial Society:

Thankfully for Gregg he has no plans to run for political office, for his chapter on democracy would surely be waved menacingly before the public at every opportunity. As with the rest of his arguments he has much more to say than we can properly analyze here, but he follows F. A. Hayek, who once noted that “unlimited democracy is bound to become egalitarian.” “Democracy,” Gregg writes, “tends to encourage a fixation with creating total equality because it requires everyone to relate to each other through the medium of democratic equality and encourages us first to ignore and then to dislike and seek to reduce all the differences that tend to contradict this equality, particularly wealth disparities.” (H. L. Mencken was more biting: government, he said, is “a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.”)

Gregg, director of research at Acton, also contributed an article to the current issue of the Bookman. In “Tocqueville as Économiste,” Gregg looks at a new work by French scholars Jean-Louis Benoît and Éric Keslassy who have collected some of the economic writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, the great commentator on American democracy. In the review, he writes:

Tocqueville’s writings about how to address poverty quickly reveal him to be no radical libertarian. The state, he always believed, had responsibilities in this area. At the same time, Tocqueville was deeply conscious of the limited effectiveness of state action in this area, not to mention the unintended consequences of many interventionist policies about which economists are skilled at reminding those who see state action as the universal elixir to all social problems.

The Commercial Society is available for online purchase from the Acton Institute Book Shoppe.

The Journal of Markets & Morality is one of eight journals that has been selected for indexing in the seminally important ATLA Religion Database in 2007. The American Theological Library Association (ATLA) is a professional association of theological libraries and librarians, with almost 300 institutional and 600 individual members.

From the ATLA’s website: “The ATLA Religion Database (ATLA RDB) currently indexes more than 500 journal titles and approximately 250 polygraphs each year, and considers new titles for evaluation based on member, publisher, and scholar recommendations.”

The Journal of Markets & Morality is one of only 20 journals that have been added to the database since 2002. In that time the database has gone through some major remodeling, including the discontinuation of the indexing of a number of journals.

The fact that our journal is one of the select few that has been added to this important resource during this process of increased competition speaks to the unique interdisciplinary focus of the journal and the high quality with which it is pursued. Of course a great deal of the credit goes to the founding editor of the journal, Dr. Stephen Grabill.

The journal “promotes intellectual exploration of the relationship between economics and morality from both social science and theological perspectives. It seeks to bring together theologians, philosophers, economists, and other scholars for dialogue concerning the morality of the marketplace.”

We’ll be launching a small advertising campaign to highlight this achievement. If you are a student or a faculty member at an institution of higher learning, please take the time to recommend that your library subscribe to our journal. If you are in interested layperson or independent scholar, please consider subscribing yourself.

Today’s post will look at the Georgetown University Press Religion & Ethics catalog and the Westminster John Knox Academic Update (series index):

Titles from Georgetown University Press:

Titles from Westminster John Knox:

Blog author: kschmiesing
Monday, December 17, 2007
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The extraordinarily prolific George Weigel has another book out: Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism. Weigel’s books are without fail thought-provoking and clearly stated, though the force, clarity, and breadth of his thought will likely result in at least one or two points of disagreement with any reader.

Another source of Weigel’s controversial character is also one of his most praiseworthy attributes: his willingness to make concrete political and practical recommendations (or, sometimes, exhortations). He is a smart and sophisticated thinker, but his thought does not remain at the level of the ethereal. It is in constant interaction with realities’ limits and deficiencies, rendering it both more convincing and more useful.

His burden in Faith is to demonstrate that Islamic jihadism (no, Marc, not climate change) is the single most urgent problem requiring the attention of civilized folk of all persuasions (Christian, agnostic, Muslim; right, left). I worried temporarily that the book would be in large part an apologia for the current war in Iraq, but it is not. Weigel argues that it is necessary to see the thing through at this point, but his catalogue of errors in the preparation for and waging of the war (82-86) is well done. What he lefts unsaid is that the mistakes he enumerates basically add up to a failure to attain an adequate understanding of the political, religious, and cultural factors at play in Iraq, and therefore to underestimate the difficulty of the task left after the main combat aim had been achieved. But is this not a persistent and perennial (inevitable?) problem attending such military interventions and, therefore, does it not suggest greater reluctance to embark on them?

That question aside, Weigel builds a formidable case. His treatment of the situation in Iran (100ff.) and his warning against the dangers of “self-imposed dhimmitude” (125) evident not only throughout Europe but also in the United States, are indeed bracing and should be wake-up calls to anyone who has slumbered through 9/11, the Madrid and London bombings, Pope Benedict’s Regensburg address, and the Danish cartoon controversy, to cite only a selection.

It is rare that a call for bipartisanship rises above the level of cynical and rhetorical, but Weigel’s effort does so. The small government conservative and the global warming lefty should be able to agree that the world’s dependence on a handful of nations’ oil reserves (and those nations’ consequent dependence on oil income to the neglect of any broader engagement with a global trade in goods and ideas) is not healthy and we must find ways to overcome it. The believer and the secularist should be able to agree that religion is not going away anytime soon and so we better find a way to live in a religiously pluralist world without resorting to violence. (If you smugly think that we Americans already have and religioius pluralism isn’t going to cause any trouble here, then you better read this book.)

It’s a book well worth a look, and a bit of reflection.

Today’s post will look at the Boydell & Brewer Early Modern & Modern History catalog and the de Gruyter Religious Studies/Jewish Studies/Theology catalog (series index):

Titles from Boydell & Brewer:

Titles from de Grutyer:

I’ve had a number of new book catalogs cross my desk over the last few months. Given the gift-giving season that is upon us, I thought I’d highlight some of the more interesting items from the various publishers. If you share my varied and rather eclectic interests, ranging from scholarly to popular works on a number of subjects, you might find something here you could add to your own Christmas list (although some items are forthcoming for 2008).

Today’s post will look at the Ashgate Reformation Studies catalog and the Crossway Academic & Pastoral Resources catalog:

Titles from Ashgate:

Titles from Crossway:

Blog author: kschmiesing
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
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The Cato Institute and Randal O’Toole offer an appealing new book, The Best Laid Plans—a recounting of the failures of government planning. Think of it as extensive documentation of the truth Hayek observed half a century ago: it is impossible for a central authority to collect all the information or make all the predictions necessary to foresee how economic activity will play out. Therefore, it is impossible to plan centrally the operation of major sectors of the economy such as transportation and land use. (More precisely, it is impossible to do it well.)

Those two items—transportation and land use—are the main focus of O’Toole’s book. A taste, from the introduction:

Somewhere in the United States today, government officials are writing a plan that will profoundly affect other people’s lives, incomes, and property. Though it may be written with the best intentions, the plan will go horribly wrong. The costs will be far higher than anticipated, the benefits will prove far smaller, and various unintended consequences will turn out to be worse than even the plans critics predicted.