The Best Possible World and Concrete Living

By |2018-12-14T00:37:06-05:00December 11th, 2018|

I found Matthew Summers’ critique of my essay “Capitalism and the Gospel of Love” illuminating in the sense that two serious thinkers can look at the same phenomenon from completely different viewpoints. He seeks to show that capitalism is the best economic system; given capitalism, I seek to understand how to live best; he focuses [...]

In Defense of Capitalism

By |2018-12-16T23:14:07-05:00December 2nd, 2018|

The term capitalism has long been used by critics as a catch-all to denote a system replete with greed, indulgence, excess, and deprivation. It is easy to misinterpret self-interest as selfishness and write off capitalism and economics. But the truth of the matter is much more complicated… I find myself still scratching my head over George [...]

Capitalism and the Gospel of Love

By |2018-08-15T11:44:18-05:00August 14th, 2018|

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith was absolutely right: The widespread division of labor would cause the interior life to die; an unsurprising result, for under capitalism, the human person became a commodity, a resource, a thing used to further profits… My parents, Romanian gypsies, born in a Transylvanian village and raised in [...]

Pope Francis and the Caring Society

By |2018-12-09T08:42:03-05:00September 30th, 2017|

I’ve not been fully sure what to “make” of Pope Francis. He is clearly a man of God with a deep love for the poor and an even deeper personal humility. But how is one to respond to his pronouncements on economic and environmental issues?… Pope Francis and the Caring Society, ed. Robert M. [...]

What Is Economics?

By |2019-02-05T16:16:48-05:00March 2nd, 2017|

Economics is not a stand-alone science, as disciples of the Enlightenment claim, but a branch of philosophy. In short, economics is one of the liberal arts… My recent essay seeking an adequate definition of capitalism prompted an intriguing comment from a usually eloquent interlocutor, who wondered how those who “have no economic training… think [...]

How Modernity Diminishes the Human Person

By |2019-03-19T11:10:48-05:00January 29th, 2017|

Because of the strong secular faith instilled in us by education, most of us trust that science and technology, democracy, and capitalism, the three legs of Modernity, can bring about only good ends and fail to see that these three triumphs of humankind can diminish the human person… With the publication of the book [...]

What is the “Invisible Hand”?

By |2017-01-12T20:50:03-05:00January 12th, 2017|

Observers who disapprove of others’ exchanges too often want to substitute the visible fist of the state for the invisible hand of the market… “As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce [...]

Edmund Burke and the Economy of Fury

By |2017-02-06T11:41:20-05:00December 28th, 2016|

Whereas Adam Smith had warned that government must intervene in the economy from time to time, Edmund Burke believed any interference in the economy on the part of government to be a violation of the natural law… […]

The Christian Case for Global Capitalism

By |2018-11-09T11:54:39-05:00October 3rd, 2016|

Should Christians support capitalism? Surely yes, if only because capitalism deserves most of the credit for the decline of extreme poverty in the world, from about one-third of the world’s population a generation ago, to about one-tenth today, using World Bank definitions of poverty. But capitalism has its moral dangers, one of which is [...]

Edmund Burke, Ideologues, & Subdivisions

By |2018-11-09T12:16:51-05:00September 27th, 2016|

When Edmund Burke surveyed the names of those leading the French Revolution in its first half year of existence in 1789, he despaired. Several were certainly good men, he noted, and many were quite accomplished. Yet, not a single man possessing any necessary experience in the world appeared on the list. “The best,” he [...]

John Adams on Nobility and Social Architecture

By |2016-12-16T11:36:57-05:00September 8th, 2016|

Within his general view of man as naturally social, John Adams explored the nature of the passion for distinction. To speak of man as gregarious is merely to identify a human inclination to “go in flocks or herds, like sheep or partridges.”[46] But Adams went beyond that mere assertion and identified the nature of [...]

The Art of War & the Wisdom Proper to the State

By |2016-12-14T14:48:35-05:00June 5th, 2016|

The art of war… as it is certainly the noblest of all arts, so in the progress of improvement it necessarily becomes one of the most complicated among them. The state of the mechanical, as well as of some other arts, with which it is necessarily connected, determines the degree of perfection to which [...]

The End of Socialism

By |2016-06-04T22:09:55-05:00June 4th, 2016|

James R. Otteson, the Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics at Wake Forest University, possesses one of the greatest minds in defense of classical liberalism in the modern era. He has authored two definitive works on Adam Smith, a clear rebuttal of the ethics of Peter Singer, and now a crucial attack [...]

Car Repair, Self-Interest, & the Benevolent Investor

By |2016-03-26T13:04:21-05:00February 11th, 2016|

I have been reminiscing a lot lately, probably a sign of my age. But I recently came to recall an episode in my earlier life before I returned to St. John’s College as its president more than twenty years ago, when my second son announced: “Dad, I’m willing to talk with you about my [...]