I Wrote a Book

Front CoverI’m delighted to announce the publication of my first book: Foundations of a Free & Virtuous Society!

The back cover text written by my wonderful editor Kevin Schmiesing does a great job summing it up:

Creative, quirky, and always winsome, Dylan Pahman builds a systematic case for a positive relationship between a biblical understanding of the human person and the economic flourishing that freedom enables. His tour of scripture, philosophy, and economics mirrors the curriculum of the Acton Institute’s highly successful conferences. Free-market advocates will discover a sound theological groundwork and people of faith will learn how to speak “Economish” as they follow Pahman through this crash course in the principles of a free and virtuous society.

The table of contents is as follows:

FOREWORD by Samuel Gregg vii
INTRODUCTION xi

Part 1
Christian Anthropology
1. What Does It Mean to Be Human? 1
2. What Is Society? 25
3. What Is an Economy? 49

Part 2
What If?
4. Property and Prices 77
5. Inequality, Equality, and Freedom 107

CONCLUSION 135

APPENDIX: ACTON INSTITUTE’S CORE PRINCIPLES 139
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 143
ABOUT THE AUTHOR 145

At less than 150 pages, the book is designed to be an accessible crash course in a Christian approach to the intersection of faith and economics.

Pop references include: Back to the Future, Sliders, Choose Your Own Adventure, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Calvin and Hobbes, and many more!

Ever wonder how Sunday relates to Monday through Saturday? Ever wonder how to speak the language of economics? Ever wonder how to bring morality into the marketplace and more effectively alleviate poverty and seek social justice? Then my book is for you!

You can buy it on Amazon here.

St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly: A Theology of Asceticism

This week I received two copies of the most recent issue of the St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, Vol. 60, no. 4 (2016), which contains an article by me offering a theological and philosophical analysis of Christian asceticism. In particular, my concern in this paper is asceticism and personal identity. A full philosophy or theology of asceticism should account for its social and communal dynamics as well (inter alia), which I have explored in other academic work.

Excerpt:

This paper examines the compatibility between ancient and modern, East and West, through a philosophical and theological analysis of asceticism. Drawing upon Hegel’s dialectic of self-consciousness, I bring together Vladimir Solovyov’s account of the ascetic principle in morality and Pavel Florensky’s dynamic, non-essentialist understanding of personhood to argue that the logic of asceticism follows a dialectic of awareness — denial — transformation or, in Christian theological terms, life — death — resurrection. This modern perspective is then compared to and supplemented by Patristic accounts of the nature and goal of asceticism that generally rest upon Stoic axiology, (broadly) Neoplatonic metaphysics, and the specifically Christian themes of self-denial and divine grace. This synthesis of modern philosophical and ancient Christian understandings of asceticism is offered as an example of how, in this instance, such narratives of incompatibility are both unfounded and unhelpful. In addition, this dialectic of asceticism is offered as a paradigm for further study of asceticism in both theology and philosophy.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the new issue and check out my article here.

Public Orthodoxy: Orthodox Theology and Economic Morality

Today at Public Orthodoxy, the blog of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University, I have an essay on the need for Orthodox theology to more seriously engage modern economic science. The argument would likely apply in some degree to other theological traditions as well.

I write,

Personal relationships and the monastic life have different norms than impersonal markets. This does not mean that markets have no norms, nor that the norms of markets should overrule any other concerns. But it does mean that if we wish for our economies to be more moral, whether we hail from the political right or left (or somewhere outside of that simplistic binary), we must first understand what they are and how they function.

Read my full essay here.

Faith & Economics: Toward a Kuyperian Political Economy

This week, my article on Abraham Kuyper and the relationship between ethics and economics was published in Faith & Economics. The abstract is below. The issue also includes two other articles and two response articles. So be sure to order a copy or subscribe!

Modern economics is generally considered an entirely positive field of study, and the role of ethics and normative analysis is found to be irrelevant in contrast to facts and data. However, economics was once considered a portion of the broader field of political economy that evolved from the study of moral theology, and this origin is significant in understanding the extent to which normative analysis is appropriate in economics. Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper emphasizes the use of sphere sovereignty to explain the relationship between different academic disciplines, and his perspective is applicable to the discussion of the role of normative analysis in economics. Kuyper found that while each sphere of study is distinct, each sphere is essentially related to the spheres that it evolves from. This paper applies the theological perspective of Kuyper to the field of economics and compares and contrasts this point of view with modern scholarly opinion on the subject.

Read the whole article here.

PowerBlog: How to Have a Great and Holy Council

Today at Acton, I have a post that combines Church politics, spirituality, economics, history, and theology (oh my!). Excerpt:

Put in spiritual terms, we know that the path to sainthood is not instant perfection but a long and dedicated repentance. Like a healthy market economy, “Successes in life often come at the end of a long road of many failures.” So too with sainthood. If that is what it takes for individuals to be holy, why should Church councils be any different?

Read the whole post here.