Moral Foundations of Capitalism

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Stanford EthicSoc 157 / 257  •  Winter 2012  •  Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:15–5:45

American capitalism, at least as originally promulgated, presumed a moral foundation of selfish individualism. Critics of such a morality have consequently denigrated capitalism. But others have tried to defend it either by appealing to an alternate foundation or by defending the morality of selfish individualism. In this course, we will explore three such groups of defenders: free-market economists who have defended capitalism on social, economic, or collective grounds; theologians and conservatives who have defended capitalism using a religious or altruist foundation; and Ayn Rand, who has proposed to defend the morality of selfishness.



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