By Donald E. Frey
Lines the background of 2 rival American fiscal moralities from colonial instances to the current.
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Extra resources for America's Economic Moralists: A History of Rival Ethics and Economics
Mather’s concern for daughters, as well as sons, is immediately noticeable to the modern reader. As morally significant, however, is his focus on profit and comfort as worthy considerations in choosing work preparation. Discerning the divine will in one’s choice of a vocation was no longer highlighted in his few words on the vocational decision. Indeed, much of Mather’s essay emphasized the layperson’s Christian service to be in his or her volunteer efforts outside the work world. A certain tone of utilitarianism and individualism had crept into this Puritan’s outlook.
In their worldview, God’s providence, not scientific laws, directed events. Thus, one was free to do what was right and rest assured that a just God was in charge of consequences. These were not utilitarians who defined the good solely by consequences. This relational individualism, however, was inherently unstable. For unless obligations to others are constantly asserted, the claims of the self always loom larger from one’s own perspective. The true relationship with God and others was constantly stretched by the gravitational pull of selfishness.
Orthodox Calvinists placed little ACTING FOR SELF ’S SAKE 33 emphasis on an afterlife as a form of ethical motivation. Paley’s ethic, to the degree educated Americans in the post-Puritan era accepted it, represented an abandonment of Calvinist theology and the adaptation of religion to the Enlightenment. Paley’s theological utilitarianism would prove to be too unorthodox for the evangelical movement that emerged from post-Puritan, evangelical Protestantism in the early nineteenth century (see chapter 4 on Francis Wayland).
America's Economic Moralists: A History of Rival Ethics and Economics by Donald E. Frey