An Interview with Duncan Foley

DeLong points to this interview with Duncan Foley, author of Adam’s Fallacy, in Radical Notes.

RN: You have distinctly mentioned right in the beginning of Adam’s Fallacy that for you this fallacy resides in the compartmentalization of spheres of life into the economic and the rest of social life. And you consider this dualistic view of social life as the essence of political economy and economics. Can you please elaborate on this? If this dualism is ideological can we understand it as essential for the reproduction of capitalist social life?

DKF: The specific fallacy is Smith’s claim that the pursuit of self-interest, which has to be balanced against regard for others in other human interactions, can be trusted to lead to good outcomes both for oneself and others in the context of competitive market interactions. This idea has reconciled many people to the morally troubling consequences of capitalist development. It leads, as I show in the book, to the development of political economy and modern economics as discourses which claim a “scientific” status but whose content is in one way or another a discussion of this moral philosophical question. The dualism may not be essential for capitalist reproduction, but it seems to me to be an inevitable outgrowth of the contradictions of capitalist social relations.