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Ethics and Capitalism

Ethics and Capitalism

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Ethics and Capitalism
    Book Description:

    The essays in Ethics and Capitalism address the question of ensuring ethical and just societies within a capitalist system without sacrificing productivity.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7466-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-2)

    Capitalism is the only economic system viable for the foreseeable future. There are no workable alternatives.

    The great merit of capitalism over other economic systems is its efficiency and productivity. If resistance to capitalism is futile, as David Newhouse argues later in this volume, its inevitability is solidly based on the attractiveness of its immense productivity, its immense output of desired goods and services.

    But accepting capitalism because of the lack of alternatives, or because of its desirability, or even because of its inevitability, leaves many issues unresolved. Some or these unresolved issues are precisely the kinds of issues that...

  5. 1 Ethics and Capitalism: A Guide to the Issues
    (pp. 3-48)

    For the past three hundred years or more, writers from a multitude of disciplines and perspectives have addressed issues relating to ethics and capitalism. Capitalism was defended on moral grounds by Adam Smith in the eighteenth century and criticized on moral grounds by Karl Marx in the nineteenth. The moral beliefs that are prerequisites to capitalism were examined by Max Weber and have been criticized by Tawney, Galbraith, and others. Consumer values were defended as early as 1714 by Bernard Mandeville, but today are criticized by feminists, environmentalists, and sages such as Marshall McLuhan. Lately, the field of business ethics...

  6. 2 The Justification of Private Property
    (pp. 49-80)

    If property goes, everything goes.

    The justification of private property is that we need it. Virtually everything we value in society – prosperity, progress, democracy, freedom to conduct our lives as we please, and even such equality as is attainable in this imperfect world – is dependent on the private ownership of the means of production. Life without private property would be dreadful. There is no serious notion of the common good such that the common good is not better served by an economy with private property than by an economy where the means of production are owned collectively through...

  7. 3 Capitalism versus Democracy: The Marketing of Votes and the Marketing of Political Power
    (pp. 81-101)

    It is widely thought that democracy and capitalism are natural allies. Democracy places political power in the hands of the citizenry, and capitalism places economic power in the hands of consumers. In each case, there is a decentralization of power to the people most directly concerned, those most directly concerned with the products of the polity in the one case and with the products of the economy in the other case.

    The idea that democracy and capitalism are strongly linked figures in todayʹs political rhetoric as the thought that capitalism must be encouraged in Eastern Europe in order to strengthen...

  8. 4 Gender and the ʹSeparative Selfʹ in Economics, Ethics, and Management
    (pp. 102-121)

    The contemporary discipline of economics is often perceived as ʹhard,ʹ objective, and analytical, as compared to ʹsoftʹ areas of study such as those concerned with ethics, interpersonal skills, or communication. Moral arguments concerning capitalism often take one side or another of a similar dualism. On the one side are arguments about freedom and property rights belonging to the presumed autonomous individual, and discussions of environmental degradation in terms of discount rates and efficiency. Such arguments are often couched in terms of fundamentals and ʹhardʹ analytical reasoning. On the other side are arguments for care and concern for the weak or...

  9. 5 Business, Globalization, and the Logic and Ethics of Corruption
    (pp. 122-140)
    A.W. CRAGG

    There can be few topics at this juncture of the development of human civilization that are more in need of careful exploration than ʹEthics and Capitalism.ʹ It is now the virtually unanimous view of leaders in both the industrialized and the developing world that capitalism, or, as some put it, a free market economy, is the only viable model for organizing efficient and productive economies. This view, emerging as it has from the dramatic, non-violent, world-wide collapse of communism,¹ is no longer remarkable. What is striking, however, is the way in which the emergence of this global consensus has been...

  10. 6 Resistance Is Futile: Aboriginal Peoples Meet the Borg of Capitalism
    (pp. 141-155)

    Over the past five years, I have had an extraordinary opportunity to observe and explore economic development as it is occurring in Aboriginal communities in Canada and to influence the policies of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples as a member of the RCAP policy team on economics. I have also had an opportunity to reflect upon what I have seen. I would like to share some of the issues and questions that I have begun to raise about economic development and Aboriginal peoples.

    The value of a personal narrative and the knowledge that one gains from it seems out...

  11. 7 Capitalism, Ethics, and Ecology: The Tyranny of the Corporate Agenda
    (pp. 156-195)

    The most serious crisis facing the world economic and political order is the rapid depletion of natural resources and loss of biodiversity, which are occurring at a rate unprecedented in human and earth history – phenomena which are exacerbated by a startling disruption of global weather patterns brought about by ozone depletion and the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere. Among the causes of what has been aptly described as a tragedy of the commons in the making, the obsessive pursuit of growth in both production and consumption, characteristic of capitalist industrial societies, may be singled out as...

  12. 8 Can Capitalism Save Itself? Some Ruminations on the Fate of Capitalism
    (pp. 196-218)

    One might begin a history of our present economic era with the collapse of the Soviet Unionʹs communist experiment. It brings to a spectacularly abrupt end an epoch dominated by cold war rhetoric and two ideologically opposed superpowers – a communist Soviet Union and a capitalist United States. The history of the period can most readily be understood in terms of their ideological rivalry, which was manifest in a global competition for political influence and military, economic, scientific, and even artistic superiority.

    At the beginning of a new millennium, American-style capitalism has emerged the victor. Soviet communism is, in marked...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-230)
  14. Contributors
    (pp. 231-233)