From Economic to Socio-economic Development
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There is no doubt that human life in the more prosperous countries has changed very rapidly during the last few centuries. The availability of many forms of comfort has increased at a high rate. To a considerable extent, the forces behind this change are increased scientific and technological knowledge manifesting itself in the large numbers of new goods, in improvement in their qualities, and in a continuous change of production processes using increasingly ingenious and increasingly complicated means. A very considerable portion of these innovations have been created by individual minds and by individual acts, in which the individual was guided by personal interest and personal gain. Inventors, engineers, managers, and owners of means of production were moved largely by such personal motives. Scientists’ and technicians’ work was for quite some time one-man work, and so was employers’ activity. To be sure, they cooperated in groups of increasing size, but foi. a long time this cooperation was based on contracts that could be easily discontinued. And even though groupings of individuals of increasing size came to play their role, for the period under review the process of our society’s development was described as a process in which each person pursued his own interest. Attempts were even made to prove that such an attitude was conducive to the maximum of satisfaction for all and was creating the “best of all conceivable worlds.” This was typically the attitude of economic science, represented by its “father,” Adam Smith, and continued to be the approach adhered to by economists for a considerable portion of the 20th century.
- economicist view