… is from my emeritus colleague Vernon Smith ’s profound 2002 Nobel Prize lecture, “Constructivist and Ecological Rationality in Economics ”:
People are not required to be selfish; rather the point of [David Hume, Adam Smith and other of] the Scottish philosophers was that people did not have to be good to produce good. Markets economize on information, understanding, rationality, numbers of agents, and virtue.
DBx: Yes. And when anything that is scarce is economized on, it is used to greater and better total effect.
“Economize” often sounds to those with untutored ears to be cold and narrow. Yet in reality, to economize is to ensure that the widest possible range of good is achieved. To economize ensures this desirable outcome by preventing the means of achieving good from being wasted in particular efforts the fulfillment of which isn’t as important to humanity as is the fulfillment of other particular efforts.