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The Mystery of Capital cover

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ISBN 0-8126-9615-8
ISBN-13 978-0-8126-9615-8

$49.95  paper

512 pages


The Mystery of Capital and the Construction of Social Reality

Edited by Barry Smith, David M. Mark, and Isaac Ehrlich

This trail-blazing collection of original essays brings together the distinctive themes of two provocative and influential systems of thought: Hernando de Soto's analysis (in his Mystery of Capital) of why market capitalism is slow to 'take' in many third-world and post-Soviet countries, and John Searle's exploration (in his Construction of Social Reality) of the manner in which human society is constructed by the common acceptance of certain abstract mental categories.

"The Mystery of Capital and the Social Construction of Reality draws on the creative contributions of two important thinkers: de Soto and Searle. It takes seriously the fact that we live in a world mediated by meaning. Neglect of the dimensions of meaning results in the inability of the developing world to exploit its own resources and wealth-producing capabilities. The combination of these two bodies of thought from the worlds of development economics and philosophy stimulates a vibrant interdisciplinary engagement through the chapters of this book."

—Patrick Riordan, S.J., author of Philosophical Perspectives on People Power

“This book reveals some of the many applications that the burgeoning field of social ontology has for the law and for economics, with particular emphasis on the ever-poignant issues of sustainable development.”

—Leo Zaibert, author of Five Ways Patricia Can Kill Her Husband

"The Mystery of Capital and the Construction of Social Reality brings together De Soto's approach to capitalization and Searle's contribution to the ontology of social reality. It makes a major contribution to understanding how human society functions within the framework of legal and extra-legal institutions and provides a refreshingly new approach to the problems of development.

—Arjun K. Sengupta, UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty

Barry Smith is Julian Park Professor of Philosophy, the University at Buffalo, and director of the National Center for Ontological Research. He is editor of The Monist: An International Journal of General Philosophical Inquiry and philosophical advisor to the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Lima, Peru.

David M. Mark is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Geography, the University at Buffalo, and Director of the Buffalo site of the the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis.

Isaac Ehrlich is SUNY and UB Distinguished  Professor, Melvin H. Baker Professor of American Enterprise, Chair of the Economics Department at SUNY Buffalo, and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Human Capital.

John R. Searle is Mills Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the University of California at Berkeley and one of the most influential philosophers alive today. He is author of The Rediscovery of the Mind, The Construction of Social Reality, and Freedom and Neurobiology.

Hernando de Soto is President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Lima, Peru, and has served as advisor to more than a hundred governments throughout the world on policies designed to encourage economic development through legal and institutional reform.

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