Friday, May 24, 2013
Be sure to check out the conversation, at Public Discourse and First Things, among Robert Miller, Rusty Reno, Samuel Gregg, and others, about morality and economic freedom. Here's a bit, from one of Miller's interventions:
In my view, capitalism is consistent with Aristotelian-Thomistic moral premises, but it is not obligatory given those premises. Indeed, Aristotelian-Thomistic moral theory does not, by itself, tell us much at all about how society should be organized, either politically or economically. In principle, monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy are all morally permissible political systems (which is not to say that every exercise of governmental power in such systems is morally permissible), and capitalism, corporatism, and socialism are all morally permissible economic systems. Aristotelian-Thomistic moral philosophy does not, by itself, imply much about political or economic arrangements.
There is an important reason for this. Aristotelian-Thomistic morality is based on the idea that there is an objective human nature, which implies an objective final end for human beings, so that actions are morally right or wrong depending on whether they are ordered as means to that end. Being based on objective human nature, Aristotelian-Thomistic morals apply to all human beings, wherever and whenever they may be found.
This great generality comes, however, at a cost. For, leaving aside a very few actions that by their nature are incapable of being ordered to the final end of this life—human flourishing—and so are always and everywhere wrong (such as intentionally killing the innocent), all other actions are right or wrong depending on whether, in the actual circumstances in which they are to be performed, they are in fact ordered to the final end.