Ethics, the Environment, and the Economy
Peter Paik and Merry Wiesner-Hanks
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/30/2013
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-00926-5
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From personal finance and consumer spending to ballooning national expenditures on warfare and social welfare, debt is fundamental to the dynamics of global capitalism. The contributors to this volume explore the concept of indebtedness in its various senses and from a wide range of perspectives. They observe that many views of ethics, citizenship, and governance are based on a conception of debts owed by one individual to others; that artistic and literary creativity involves the artist’s dialogue with the works of the past; and that the specter of catastrophic climate change has underscored the debt those living in the present owe to future generations.

Author Bio

Peter Y. Paik is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is author of From Utopia to Apocalypse: Science Fiction and the Politics of Catastrophe and editor (with Marcus Bullock) of Aftermaths: Exile, Migration, and Diaspora Reconsidered.

Merry Wiesner-Hanks is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her books include The Renaissance and Reformation: A History in Documents, The Marvelous Hairy Girls: The Gonzales Sisters and Their Worlds, and Religious Transformations in the Early Modern World: A Brief Study with Documents.


“A very timely volume, exploring the focal issue of our times through a variety of approaches, including philosophical, political, anthropological and literary. . . . By linking economics and the environment, the volume is a serious attempt to reformulate the significant narrative of our times and its historical emergence, leaving behind so many other issues that were purely a matter of intellectual fashion: this volume tells us of the predicament we have to get to grips with.”
 — Philip Goodchild, University of Nottingham, author of Theology of Money and Capitalism and Religion: The Price of Piety

“Philosophically broad and deep at the same time. . . . [I]t's high time we rethought what we mean when we talk about debt. This is for the simple reason that the warm fuzzy ignorance enforced by neoliberalism has contributed very significantly to the current ecological emergency, while on the other hand monetarism is now eating the societies that spawned it, a classic case of autoimmunity. That the editors think these two facts together is really, really good. . . . [T]he most enjoyable collection of essays I've read in a while.”
 — Timothy Morton, University of California, Davis, author of The Ecological Thought and Ecology without Nature

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Table of Contents

Introduction Peter Y. Paik
1. Debt Richard D. Wolff
2. "I Consider It Un-American Not to Have a Mortgage": Immigrant Homeownership in Chicago Elaine Lewinnek
3. Demonizing Debt, Naturalizing Finance Mary Poovey
4. On Debt Michael Allen Gillespie
5. The Growth Imperative: Prosperity or Poverty Joel Magnuson
6. Democracy’s Debt: Capitalism and Cultural Revolution Stephen L. Gardner
7. Is Debt the New Karma? Why America Finally Fell Apart Morris Berman
8. Measures of Time: Exploring Debt, Imagination, and Real Nature Julianne Lutz Warren
9. The Time of Living Dead Species: Extinction Debt and Futurity in Madagascar Genese Marie Sodikoff
10. Unintended Consequences and the Epistemology of Fraud in Dickens and Hayek Eleanor Courtemanche
11. The Resurrection of an Economic God: Keynes Becomes Postmodern Michael Tratner
12. China and the United States: The Bonds of Debt Donald D. Hester
13. Debt’s Moral Kennan Ferguson
14. Debt, Theft, Permaculture: Justice and Ecological Scale Gerry Canavan