This article examines different concepts of prosperity and well-being from an economic and global perspective. Classical political economics considered
wealth to be the main source of national prosperity. The neoclassical tradition promoted the utilitarian philosophy that formed the foundation of contemporary welfare economics. After reviewing the critique of the utilitarian perspective, the article briefly discusses some alternative approaches. The strengths and weaknesses of these approaches provide a point of departure for examining global prosperity. In addition to an understanding of the concept of prosperity, an appreciation of the state of global prosperity is rendered by examining the concept of global destitution. It is argued that current economic assumptions underlying ideas about human nature and human relationships with the physical world and society are inadequate to contribute to global prosperity and that, in fact, they have contributed to global destitution. It is proposed that certain first principles need to be reexamined and that ethical perspectives need to be an integral part of any economic analysis if economics is to contribute to global prosperity. These issues are identified based on the author’s understanding of the Bahá’í literature on the spiritual orientation of the economic problem. Ethical aspects are explored for a viable, sustainable, and prosperous economic system that forms the foundation of a discussion for building a socially just and economically efficient achievement of well-being.
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Copyright © 1997 Farhad Sabetan