The conventional wisdom in economics is that resources are limited, wants are unlimited, and the business of the economist is to understand how limited resources are allocated to satisfy unlimited wants. Typically, poverty or unmet physical need is addressed apart from consumer behaviour. It was not always so. Adam Smith, Alfred Marshall, and Paul Samuelson as recently as 35 years ago, for example, were explicit about the direct linkage between needs and wants. The changes that have taken place over the years are attributable to a shift away from an Aristotelian perspective on the nature of economic studies towards the Enlightenment view. Challenges the conventional wisdom that wants are virtually unlimited, resources are limited, and poverty is best addressed apart from wants. Presents need fulfilment alongside want satisfaction in the context of the principle of subsidiarity which helps define the role of the state in provisioning unmet need.
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