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Economic Philosophy course
Old 09-07-2016, 08:42 PM   #1
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Economic Philosophy course

I'm taking a philosophy course on "economic justice". Reading the usual suspects, Locke, Smith, Hume, so on. But also modern, Stigtliz, etc.

Anyone around here interested in sharing their own thoughts on the ideas of such men?


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Old 09-07-2016, 08:55 PM   #2
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I think studying the existential ethics of Nietsche and his view of the will to power and the slave and master moralities does a good job of explaining the workings of mankind. All other studies of the philosophies of men are merely members of the master class exerting their will on the slave class.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:21 AM   #3
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My favorite was Thorstein Veblen, who came up with "conspicuous consumption" and "pecuniary emulation" as the drivers of economic behavior.
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Old 09-08-2016, 06:34 AM   #4
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Cogito ergo sum. That's all I need, but the rest is fascinating.

There's a YouTube series, "Philosophy Crashcourse" I think, that I've been listening to with my earbuds while pages of construction specifications and contract requirements flip under my glazed eyes. Haven't gotten to Nietzsche yet, but I bet he's a righteous dude.
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Old 09-08-2016, 07:09 AM   #5
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I'm taking a philosophy course on "economic justice". Reading the usual suspects, Locke, Smith, Hume, so on. But also modern, Stigtliz, etc.

Anyone around here interested in sharing their own thoughts on the ideas of such men?

Economic justice? Is that an oxymoron? Where is Adam Smith is your list of authors, although I realize he is not considered a philosopher. I am curious, this sounds like a course at a very liberal school. Economic Justice sounds like someone pushing the "living wage" or "guaranteed minimum income". I hope this course discusses both sides of the issue and is not a simple exercise is how to build a social utopia.

To answer your question, I have lived all over the world and this is my simple observation of economics in developed countries: the more social programs that exist the higher the unemployment level and the higher the taxes on working people and the less poverty. So take your pick.
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Old 09-08-2016, 07:42 AM   #6
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Wealth comes to those who produce. Thats the only philosophy I need.
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:15 AM   #7
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Wealth comes to those who produce. Thats the only philosophy I need.
I agree with you but there is one glaring exception. Inheritance, unfortunate of the really rich people I know more of them got it thru inheritance than hard work.
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:27 AM   #8
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Economic justice? Is that an oxymoron? Where is Adam Smith is your list of authors, although I realize he is not considered a philosopher. I am curious, this sounds like a course at a very liberal school. Economic Justice sounds like someone pushing the "living wage" or "guaranteed minimum income". I hope this course discusses both sides of the issue and is not a simple exercise is how to build a social utopia.

To answer your question, I have lived all over the world and this is my simple observation of economics in developed countries: the more social programs that exist the higher the unemployment level and the higher the taxes on working people and the less poverty. So take your pick.
Hume was actually the mentor of Adam Smith and most of Adam Smith’s ideas developed as a result of Hume’s influence.
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:54 AM   #9
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All economic systems are artificial constructs. There is no "divinely-inspired" system to which we should aspire.
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:55 AM   #10
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I agree with you but there is one glaring exception. Inheritance, unfortunate of the really rich people I know more of them got it thru inheritance than hard work.
I was speaking in the macro sense, not down at the individual level, but certainly we would have a better society if more able bodied individuals applied that principle to themselves.
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:36 AM   #11
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I see people stating their stances as "fact". This will likely lead toward a non-civil discourse, and thread closure. Let's try to keep it a little more abstract from ourselves so we don't fall down that hole of right & wrong.

Adam smith was a philisopher, as was mostly everyone who spawned fields like mathematics, economics, etc. prior to wealth of nations, his principle work was on morality. He also was head of philosophy dept for a decade or so.

Re: oxymoron... Well isn't that the point of learning? Examine many sides of an argument, look at what evidence we can in the world, and decide what, at least, we personally believe is "good?". Anyone can discount a school, class, or book by a title. But for your reference, it examines both liberal and libertarian sides of capitalism's foundations. The school is harvard.



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Old 09-08-2016, 11:51 AM   #12
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Wealth comes to those who produce. Thats the only philosophy I need.

Produce, to me, means labor. But doesn't the most wealth in capitalism go to capitalists? Meaning wealth goes to those with the most property(money,land,IP) not those that perform the labor. As someone else put it well, you then have the problem of inheritance, and theoretically you end up in a place where very few pretty much own everything.


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Old 09-08-2016, 11:55 AM   #13
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I see people stating their stances as "fact". This will likely lead toward a non-civil discourse, and thread closure. Let's try to keep it a little more abstract from ourselves so we don't fall down that hole of right & wrong.
This is a good point.

Lets avoid going into partisanship or name calling or the thread will, indeed, end up closed.

It's an interesting topic, but lets keep it civil and friendly.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:14 PM   #14
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Produce, to me, means labor. But doesn't the most wealth in capitalism go to capitalists? Meaning wealth goes to those with the most property(money,land,IP) not those that perform the labor. As someone else put it well, you then have the problem of inheritance, and theoretically you end up in a place where very few pretty much own everything.
It is perhaps simplistic to, in any way, imply that those with property aren't producing and yet are gaining wealth. Their property produces no wealth (for themselves or anyone else) if it is buried in the back yard, or if it is mismanaged. But they can produce wealth >using< their property (just as a laborer might produce wealth >using< his brawn) by making careful decisions about where to put it to use. And "putting it to use" brings wealth to the original owner and also brings wealth to those who use the capital (to buy tools that make them more productive, etc). This act of choosing where to use their capital is also an often overlooked social good, as it puts resources where they can do the most good and generate the most wealth. And, finally, their capital is put at risk, they can lose some or all of it, and that's not just a theoretical possibility.

I know this isn't the view of all the authors mentioned in the OP (Stiglitz in particular). But if we start with the view that there are "workers" and "oppressors", or "victims" and "victimizers"--as virtually all those who specialize in "economic justice" do, then we'll have a very short discussion.

Every person who voluntarily participates in open and free trade (of their goods, services, labor, etc) gains from it, else they would not participate in the exchange. They may feel that "the other guy benefitted more," but that is unknowable and ultimately irrelevant. Both sides of the trade did the best they could to get maximum value for what they traded, and it's entirely possible that the market didn't value things as one or the other participants may have wanted. Ultimately, what the market says wins.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:40 PM   #15
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Inheritance may be responsible for about 20% of the wealthy. About 80% are first generation. Wish I could remember where I've seen those statistics for a citation, but my memory fails me at the moment. Too much like w*rk to look it up.


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Old 09-08-2016, 01:26 PM   #16
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Produce, to me, means labor. But doesn't the most wealth in capitalism go to capitalists? Meaning wealth goes to those with the most property(money,land,IP) not those that perform the labor. As someone else put it well, you then have the problem of inheritance, and theoretically you end up in a place where very few pretty much own everything.


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Produce as in doing something productive to contribute to the economy and society. That could include, but is not limited to, producing products and services which includes all types of work behind such endeavors. Compare that to those that contribute nothing in terms of wealth creation for themselves or others.
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Old 09-08-2016, 01:37 PM   #17
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Here is another new term for your economic justice class that is gaining traction in the media, your Prof will give you an A if your term paper supports this idea.

Universal basic income.
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Economic Philosophy course
Old 09-08-2016, 01:38 PM   #18
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Produce as in doing something productive to contribute to the economy and society. That could include, but is not limited to, producing products and services which includes all types of work behind such endeavors. Compare that to those that contribute nothing in terms of wealth creation for themselves or others.

So i think you are agreeing and you defining labor as the physical act of production. I think my question stands, the labor of producing is the least compensated ( and most highly taxed) activity in the US, and the majority of wealth creation is sent to capital, not labor. Do you agree? Not trying to set you up for a 1% argument or anything, just trying to understand your position.

Fundamentally, there is only labor or capital as inputs to production. Just as with money there is only a result of either consumption or saving. At least this is the framework i think within.


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Old 09-08-2016, 01:57 PM   #19
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So i think you are agreeing and you defining labor as the physical act of production. I think my question stands, the labor of producing is the least compensated ( and most highly taxed) activity in the US, and the majority of wealth creation is sent to capital, not labor. Do you agree? Not trying to set you up for a 1% argument or anything, just trying to understand your position.

Fundamentally, there is only labor or capital as inputs to production. Just as with money there is only a result of either consumption or saving. At least this is the framework i think within.


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Labor can take many forms, starting from the entrepreneur on down to individuals on a production line. You have to start with an idea and turn it into something that creates value and wealth. It takes a heck of a lot of work to launch a business. Anyhow, I am looking at value creation and labor at a higher level than you are wanting to define it, but of course those that founded businesses and are putting significant intellectual capital into growing those business are more handsomely rewarded than a production line worker. Nevertheless, all individuals involved can contribute to their own wealth if they utilize their capital or earnings wisely. Do you disagree?
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Old 09-08-2016, 02:26 PM   #20
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Labor can take many forms, starting from the entrepreneur on down to individuals on a production line. You have to start with an idea and turn it into something that creates value and wealth. It takes a heck of a lot of work to launch a business. Anyhow, I am looking at value creation and labor at a higher level than you are wanting to define it, but of course those that founded businesses and are putting significant intellectual capital into growing those business are more handsomely rewarded than a production line worker. Nevertheless, all individuals involved can contribute to their own wealth if they utilize their capital or earnings wisely. Do you disagree?

I think i agree. I agree the not all labor is equal, which i think is your point. My labor is surely worth more than the teenager cutting my grass (haphazardly, darn kids). My labor is worth more simply because there is more demand for it, and there is demand for it because people want their capital put to some sort of use so that they may profit. And certanly, those that "loan" their capital, intellectual or otherwise, must be granted a reasonable return for their property.

The trick with economic justice, I think, is how and how much should go to whom. I hope we could all agree both extremes are wrong, pure equality where all wealth is redistributed would be counter productive, not good for society in the long run. But equally so, no redistribution would mean no public goods, no roads, parks, no police or education. In that state, we would all own nothing.

So, personally, i think the thought is if we all enter into a social contract in which we pay taxes in order to have certain public goods like roads, military safety, rule of law to protect whats "ours", well, how far do we go?

Healthcare? Well that is the poli-football of our time. But ultimately the question might fundamentally be what things are "good" to have distributed by the government, and what things are not?

I would argue the highway system would be a ridiculous disjointed knot if left to a free market to construct. Equally, the government should not be in the business of subsidizing the price of corn or sugar and other commodities. (Really hope i didn't just irk a farmer)


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