Thursday, November 29, 2007

Selfishness and its justifications

I'm echoing DeLong here, save I think the thesis is at least as true of America libertarians as of American conservatives.
D-squared Digest -- FOR bigger pies and shorter hours and AGAINST more or less everything else:

...As I've posted earlier, the single most sensible thing said in political philosophy in the twentieth century was JK Galbraith's aphorism that the quest of conservative thought throughout the ages has been 'the search for a higher moral justification for selfishness'.

Some rightwingers are not hypocrites because they admit that their basic moral principle is 'what I have, I keep'.

Some rightwingers are hypocrites because they pretend that 'what I have, I keep' is always and everywhere the best way to express a general unparticularised love for all sentient things.

Then there are the tricky cases where the rightwingers happen to be on the right side because we haven't yet discovered a better form of social organisation than private property for solving several important classes of optimisation problem...
Neo-calvinism is the American fusion of 'selfishness as virtue' with 'wealth as a sign of God's blessings'.

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