The beliefs in market efficiency and the idea that well-being can be measured in money have become second nature to much of the economics profession. Yet it does not have to be this way. Economists working in Britain–Amartya Sen, James Mirrlees, and Anthony Atkinson–pursued a broader program, worrying about poverty and inequality and considering health as a key component of well-being. Sen argues that a key misstep was made not by Friedman but by Hayek’s colleague Lionel Robbins, whose definition of economics as the study of allocating scarce resources among competing ends narrowed the subject compared with what philosopher Hilary Putnam calls the “reasoned and humane evaluation of social wellbeing that Adam Smith saw as essential to the task of the economist.” And it was not just Smith, but his successors, too, who were philosophers as well as economists.
In other words, when you hold one virtue above all others, you twist it into a vice, and hurt the project you esteem.