Spring 2023 Bulletin

Dædalus focuses on “Creating a New Moral Political Economy”

Dædalus Editorial
Smog above rows of uniform houses with smokestacks. Nearby signs read “39%” and “MORE,” and show arrows pointing in different directions. Below, a person cleans the streets and commuters face away from them. A barred window protects two interlocked cogs. Signs on the smokestacks show radioactive symbols, and read DANGER, PROHIBIDO, and NO. Below, people pass each other, dejected. A winged creature with a lightbulb for a head approaches something that looks like a mailbox.
These images, which are printed on the inside covers of the Dædalus volume, are by the Australian artist Shaun Tan. They are taken from a storyboard for the Academy Award–winning short film The Lost Thing, based on Tan’s book of the same name. Tan says that The Lost Thing incorporates “ideas about social apathy and dehumanizing economic policies,” depicting a city where “all value and meaning is so clearly defined, it leaves no room for alternative ideas and inventiveness.” But those who follow the clues can discover the door to a place where the things that don’t fit can be found. Tan’s image captures what we wanted to create with this issue—a first sketch of a political and economic world that seems morally exhausted, but that has wonderful possibilities for change if only we lift up our eyes. Tram Window Landscape storyboard © 2008 by Shaun Tan. Film © 2010 by Passion Pictures Australia and Screen Australia.

By Dædalus Editorial 

Capitalist democracy needs rethinking and renewal. Our current political economic framework is fixated on GDP, individual achievement, and short-term profit, all the while heightening barriers to widespread prosperity. Faced with mounting climate crises and systemic discrimination, how can we reconfigure our systems to secure economic well-being for all? What steps must we take to ensure our new approaches are (and will remain) sustainable?

The Winter 2023 issue of Dædalus on “Creating a New Moral Political Economy,” guest edited by Margaret Levi and Henry Farrell, offers a range of ideas to combat unequal footing across the polity, marketplace, and workplace. Across eleven main essays and twenty-two responses, the contributors ask us to rethink the collective goals of a society and its means of gauging success. In dialogue with each other, the authors spark a new discourse that places the health and well-being of the people on par with the wealth of nations.

To achieve this new vision of the economy, the contributors suggest various collaborative actions. As Margaret Levi and Zachary Ugolnik write in their introduction, “All [the essays] in this volume evoke some form of soci­ality and cooperation as linchpins of their arguments . . . The starting place of a moral political economy is the twofold assumption that, first, humans are social animals albeit intentional, boundedly rational, and individuated, and, second, they benefit from reciprocity and cooperation.” This focus on collaboration is evident in both the content itself and the synergy inherent in the call and response between the main essays and those written in reply.

Among these calls, Jenna Bednar suggests we need to shift our attention from metrics such as GDP to the material benefits of human flourishing. A similar perspective comes from Alison Gop­nik, who describes a revamped approach to considering and compensating various forms of care. Natasha Iskander and Nichola Lowe argue for “biophilic institutions” that address the need for sustainable business practices that protect both employees and the planet. Grieve Chelwa, Darrick Hamilton, and Avi Green call for more expansive economic policies that include racial justice alongside class consciousness.

On meaningful work and the workplace, John S. Ahlquist says we need to retire subjective rhetoric about “good jobs” in favor of that of “decent jobs.” Richard M. Locke, Ben Armstrong, Samantha Schaab-Rozbicki, and Geordie Young compare the ethics and outcomes of two meat-packing corporations’ approaches to retaining employees during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rebecca Henderson argues that firms have a responsibility to their employees, shareholders, and society to adopt moral and sustainable business practices; she identifies several opportunities for intervention.

Exploring democratic governance, regulation, and what we owe the future, Debra Satz considers the ways unregulated markets have affected democratic culture and institutions. Henry Farrell and Marion Fourcade suggest algorithms have had a large hand in shaping digital marketplaces, drawing lessons from modernism to devise ways to protect users from the onslaught of surveillance and the misapplication of algorithmic and AI decision-making. Closing the volume, Federica Carugati and Nathan Schneider pull from older epistemologies to expand our connection to knowledge as both descendants and ancestors.

Patterns emphasizing ongoing connections recur throughout the volume, reinforcing the need to commit to supportive social movements that prioritize collective, equitable, and respectful responsibility for care of the earth and its people. Together, the authors meet the challenge set by Levi and Ugolnik: “the establishment of a political economic framework that offers a revised form of capitalist democracy, one that ensures the flourishing of all, whose morality truly represents commonly held and cherished values, and yet recognizes and respects difference.”

The Winter 2023 issue of Dædalus on “Creating a New Moral Political Economy” features the following essays:

Mobilizing in the Interest of Others
Margaret Levi & Zachary Ugolnik

Foundations of an Expanded Community of Fate
Samuel Bowles & Wendy Carlin

Reimagining Political Economy Without “Yanking on a Thread before It’s Ready”
Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar

Governance for Human Social Flourishing
Jenna Bednar

All (Cautiously) Hail—and Scale—Community!
Prerna Singh

Power to Pursue Happiness
Joseph Kennedy III

Caregiving in Philosophy, Biology & Political Economy
Alison Gopnik

Care Is a Relationship
Anne-Marie Slaughter

Egalitarian Pluralism
Steven M. Teles

Biophilic Institutions: Building New Solidarities between the Economy & Nature
Natasha Iskander & Nichola Lowe

Biophilic Markets
Eric D. Beinhocker

Biophilia & Military Degrowth
Julie Livingston

Making Decent Jobs
John S. Ahlquist

Eudaimonic Jobs
Suresh Naidu

Mutual Aid as Spiritual Sustenance
Michelle Miller

Supply Chains & Working Conditions During the Long Pandemic: Lessons for a New Moral Political Economy?
Richard M. Locke, Ben Armstrong, Samantha Schaab-Rozbicki & Geordie Young

Doing Well by Doing Right
Joshua Cohen

Unchaining Workers
R. Alta Charo

Identity Group Stratification, Political Economy & Inclusive Economic Rights
Grieve Chelwa, Darrick Hamilton & Avi Green

Reducing the Transactional Value of Identity & Race
Henry Farrell & Margaret Levi

Neoliberal Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for (Some) Economists to Talk about Racism
Manuel Pastor

Democracy & “Noxious” Markets
Debra Satz

Is There a Proper Scope for Markets?
Marc Fleurbaey

How Should We Govern Housing Markets in a Moral Political Economy?
Chloe Thurston

Moral Firms?
Rebecca Henderson

Are Moral Firms Committed Firms?
Colin Mayer

Can Firms Act Morally?
Margaret O’Mara

The Moral Economy of High-Tech Modernism
Henry Farrell & Marion Fourcade

The Structuring Work of Algorithms
danah boyd

High-Tech Modernism: Limits & Extensions
William H. Janeway

Governance Archaeology: Research as Ancestry
Federica Carugati & Nathan Schneider

Taking Responsibility for Tomorrow: Remaking Collective Governance as Political Ancestors
Lily L. Tsai

In Search of Ontologies of Entanglement
Ann Pendleton-Jullian & John Seely Brown


“Creating a New Moral Political Economy” is available on the Academy’s website. Dædalus is an open access publication.