|Chapter 2:||Knowledge Is Meaningful|
Complex theories on the economy are postulated by a multitude of social theorists and economists.4 But what economists share in common is a consensus that “economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses” (Sowell, 2000), such as knowledge and labor. Sowell (2000) added that another basic economic principle is that there are different economic systems (e.g., socialism and feudalism), which operate under different principles. Also, economics goes beyond the mere study of money; instead, it is a discipline of alternatives. The point is that there are commonly accepted principles. The economic system considered here is that of capitalism. The general principle of capitalism is the freedom to compete without restriction. It is founded on the principles of a division of labor as well as a division of knowledge (Foray, 2006; Gamble, 2006).
The accredited author of what is called the free-enterprise system (capitalism) was Adam Smith (1723–1790). Smith’s emphasis centers on the division of labor. His philosophy was developed in reaction to unfair government restrictions on enterprise, which, at the time, was privileging the industry of some people over the business of others. In effect, Smith (1776/1937) argued against monopolies in favor of free competition between industries:
This is ironic because what is being witnessed in modernity is the privileging of one kind of knowledge (re)production over another: business norms over educational norms. This elucidates the crux of conflicting visions of knowledge. The free-enterprise system, the habitus of corporations, is based on a philosophy of “freedom” to produce and compete in the marketplace (Sowell, 2000). Though they use a different concept of freedom, philosophers of education also argue for freedom