Faith and Economics: A Study Meeting

The European University Institute, Florence | March 18 - 19, 2007

Four prominent international economic policy-makers explored the relationship between faith, economic and distributional justice, and policy applications.

There is a widespread feeling that the practice of economics has become technocratic and detached from commitments to broader ethical, moral and religious values. That feeling has contributed to pervasive, destructive backlashes against globalization. Recognizing the truth in these sentiments, this meeting advances from two premises: first, that mankind's spiritual and practical developments cannot be separated from each other; and second, that spiritual poverty engenders social and economic fragmentation and erosion. Four prominent international economic policy-makers - Anwar Ibrahim, Michel Camdessus, Emma Rothschild, and Amartya Sen- were invited to explore the relationship between faith, economic and distributional justice, and policy applications. These four experts were assembled not only to tap their personal knowledge, but to initiate a new dialogue among the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Principal Inquiries

  • Has policy-making become too technocratic and too separated from an awareness of the dignity of the individual?
  • What kinds of conceptions of freedom help to form a just approach to policy questions?
  • Are there commonalities between the approaches of the major religious traditions of the Abrahamic faiths?
  • What is the relationship of those faiths to doctrines sometimes preached in the name of radical fundamentalism?
  • Is fundamentalism of any stripe compatible with economic growth?
  • What links can be established or debunked between poverty and spiritual condition?


Harold James - Princeton University
James Boughton - International Monetary Fund


Michel Camdessus - International Monetary Fund
Anwar Ibrahim - Georgetown University
Emma Rothschild - Harvard University
Amartya Sen - Harvard University