Description: In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis challenges us to both respect the environment and attend to the needs of the poor. On the standard economic view, the two goals are in tension. Economic growth is the best remedy for poverty, yet economic growth also puts pressure on the environment. That tension has led some to reject the pope's message as hopelessly naive. But in the key chapters of the encyclical, Francis challenges the dominant world view of our age, which he calls the 'technocratic paradigm', implicitly arguing that environmental degradation and economic injustice are rooted in its faulty understanding of creation. As long as we are mired in the technocratic paradigm, we will be unable to develop a genuinely just and sustainable economy. If that is right, there is an urgent need to reclaim the creation paradigm. To come into right relationship with the material world, we need to be reminded that it is a reflection of God’s superabundant goodness.
Bio: Mary Hirschfeld, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Economics and Theology in the Department of Humanities at Villanova University. Prof. Hirschfeld holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Notre Dame. Her work focuses on developing an approach to economics grounded in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, with applications to questions of consumption, economic justice, the common good, and the nature of practical reason. In addition to her many scholarly articles in various journals, Prof. Hirschfeld is working on a book, Toward a Human Economy: Aquinas and the Modern Economy, in which she develops a theological framework for economics while respecting the best that modern economics has to offer.
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