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The Ethics of Capital Incomes

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The Ethics of Capital Incomes

Postby bedwere » Sun Oct 22, 2017 6:00 pm

This talk discusses, among other things, Aristotle's condemnation of usury (and capital income in general) in the context of Athenian society. Given at at 2017 meeting of the Property and Freedom Society by German prof. Guido Hülsmann.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn1ziuO6DfE&t=0s
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Re: The Ethics of Capital Incomes

Postby ailuros » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:08 pm

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Re: The Ethics of Capital Incomes

Postby bedwere » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:19 pm

Yes, the PFS is hated by many from the left but also from the right (neoconservatives).
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Re: The Ethics of Capital Incomes

Postby ailuros » Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:06 pm

PFS is the group doing the hating. you have it backwards.
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Re: The Ethics of Capital Incomes

Postby bedwere » Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:10 pm

I stand by what I said. Maybe it's better to lock this topic.
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Re: The Ethics of Capital Incomes

Postby daivid » Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:44 pm

Because I made a decision to only read Aristotle in Greek, I have read very little of him. Hence all of what Guido Hülsmann says was new to me. Also my comments on Aristotle will be based mainly on what Guido Hülsmann says about his ideas.

I also did not know that the church teaching on usury went back to Aristotle though, now I come to think of it, I should have expected it. Clearly Aristotle was not motivated by antisemitism as it was a result of the church ban on Christians being involved in usury that made that niche available to Jews. However, when a modern writer like Hülsmann makes this a major focus of his ideas it does raise a red flag about his ideas.

But the fundamental problem is in taking on aspect of of an economic system and not merely saying that aspect of the economic system has undesirable consequences but saying those people who carry out a particular economic function are immoral is deeply problematic and lends itself to scapegoating.

Morality can be invoked when someone is involved in economic activities that are are illegal. Further, as laws can’t cover a situation sometimes people will lay themselves open to criticism if they push their legal rights limit in cases where the consequences to someones else are exceptionally bad. Hülsmann, however, and Aristotle before him are not taking issue over some special case but they are demonizing those involved in an entire branch of the economy.

That is not to say there are not economic activities that can be seen harmful. Alcohol and drugs have clear dangers for those use them. However we have the option of making those activities illegal. If we decide democratically that the cost of enforcement is too great then it is unfair to make those who provide such products pariahs.

It is one thing for him to argue that fractional-reserve banking is a bad way to run things (though I when I have argued with people who take this stance I have found their arguments weak). It is quite another for him to deem immoral everyone involved in that economic activity. That leads in the direction of some very toxic aspects of the far right.
Lastly, I concede that this kind of scapegoating is not just a problem of the far right. Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks had a lot of similarities.

I don’t know enough about Aristotle to explain why Aristotle took the stance he does. It smells to me of a snobbish looking down on the nouveau riche. But Aristotle was a slaveholder and he justified the institution. That can be condemned unreservedly because of the harm it caused to those subject to that institution. For Aristotle to look down on anyone is pretty rich.
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