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Berman on Law and Economics

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Harold BermanIn his magisterial Law and Revolution, Berman includes these incisive observations in his conclusion:

Law is as much a part of the mode of production of a society as farmland or machinery; the farmland or machinery is nothing unless it operates, and law is an integral part of its operation. Crops are not sown and harvested without duties and rights of work and exchange. Machinery is not produced, moved from the producer to the user, and used, and the costs and benefits of its use are not valued, without some kind of legal ordering of these activities. Such legal ordering is itself a form of capital.

Berman offers this in part as a corrective to Marxist reductionism of everything to a materialist substructure. Thus, writes Berman, “Law is not only fact; it is also idea, or concept, and, in addition, it is a measure of value. It has, inevitably, an intellectual and a moral dimension.”

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Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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