Bastiat's Plow

Francois-Rene Rideau Francois-Rene Rideau <>
Fri, 10 Aug 2001 10:28:01 +0200

Mark Thornton <> pointed me to this article:
	Bastiat's Plow
	By Gene Callahan
	August 7, 2001

Many economists have said how Bastiat was a master of the concept of
"opportunity cost". I think that, more than that, Bastiat showed that
ultimately, the only notion of cost that matters is that of opportunity
cost: the notion of relative cost of alternatives between which to choose
to achieve a given useful result (Bastiat also expanded on the notion of
Utility -- see at least the Sophism "Equalizing the Conditions of
Production" and Economic Harmonies chapter XI, "Producer and Consumer").
And this is precisely what makes economics a "moral and social science":
it is a science about choice by individuals living in society.
My latest attempt at putting it in an aphorism is "Economics is the
plural of morality", but I'm not satisfied with it.
A modern author known to have expanded on the decision-making in society
aspect is of course F.A. Hayek.
Enough rambles for now.

PS: Pat Galea also tells me he submitted "Government" to Memoware,
so Palm users will soon be able to find it on

Yours freely,

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | ]
[  TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System  |  ]
Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out,
but that is not the reason we are doing it
	-- Richard Feynman