Economics and human rights

Authored by: Lorenz Blume

Handbook of Human Rights

Print publication date:  September  2011
Online publication date:  February  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415480239
eBook ISBN: 9780203887035
Adobe ISBN: 9781134019083


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Historically, economists have been rather reluctant to deal with human rights. Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), as a leading proponent of utilitarianism, famously called them “nonsense on stilts.” Representatives of the so-called classical or old institutionalism such as Gustav von Schmoller (1838–1917) from the German Historic School and John Commons (1862–1945), Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929), and Wesley Mitchell (1874–1948) from the American Institutionalist School criticized the neoclassical market model for completely ignoring interest conflicts, social relationships, and the importance of institutions, but their influence on the mainstream of economic research in the twentieth century is negligible.

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