Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism Common Sense Concepts


Popular opinion would have us believe that America's free market system is driven by greed and materialism, resulting in gross inequalities of wealth, destruction of the environment, and other social ills. Even proponents of capitalism often refer to the free market as simply a 'lesser evil' whose faults are preferable to those of social democracy or communism. But what if the conventional understanding of capitalism as corrupt and unprincipled is wrong? What if the free market ...
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Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism

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Popular opinion would have us believe that America's free market system is driven by greed and materialism, resulting in gross inequalities of wealth, destruction of the environment, and other social ills. Even proponents of capitalism often refer to the free market as simply a 'lesser evil' whose faults are preferable to those of social democracy or communism. But what if the conventional understanding of capitalism as corrupt and unprincipled is wrong? What if the free market economy actually reinforces Christian values?

In Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism, Arthur C. Brooks and Peter Wehner explore how America's system of democratic capitalism both depends upon and cultivates an intricate social web of families, churches, and communities. Far from oppressing and depriving individuals, the free market system uniquely enables Americans to exercise vocation and experience the dignity of self-sufficiency, all while contributing to the common good. The fruits of this system include the alleviation of poverty, better health, and greater access to education than at any other time in human history-but also a more significant prosperity: the flourishing of the human soul.

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Editorial Reviews

World Magazine
Excellently lays out the morality of democratic capitalism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780844743776
  • Publisher: Aei Press
  • Publication date: 10/16/2010
  • Series: Values and Capitalism Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,163,528
  • Product dimensions: 4.40 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute. His previous books include Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America-and How We Can Get More of It and Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism. Peter Wehner is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is the former Director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives and served as deputy director of speechwriting under President George W. Bush.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Philip Jenkins Jenkins, Philip

Chapter I Human Nature and Capitalism 1

Three Views of Human Nature 1

Self Interest: A Positive or Negative Human Characteristic? 5

The Relationship between Human Nature and Government 7

Chapter II The Economic Achievements of Capitalism 11

The Industrial Revolution and Its Impact 13

The Rise (and Fall) of Communism 16

Why Capitalism Triumphs over Communism 20

Chapter III Capitalism, Ethics, and Religious Faith 27

How Capitalism Fosters Morality 28

Protecting Capitalism from Corruption 34

Chapter IV Is Capitalism Unjust? 39

Understanding Inequality 40

Economic Justice and Religious Teaching 47

Conclusion 55

About the Authors 58

Endnotes 60

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Capitalism and Human Nature

    Wealth & Justice is a broad-based and highly effective defense of capitalism, addressing objectively its many virtues and some vices. Of note, the authors identify the understanding of human nature by Adam Smith, the Scottish Enlightenment, and our Founders as the key underpinning of our successful commercial republic. Significantly, the modern science of evolutionary psychology has recently validated their idea of human nature. That is a watershed because, in addition to communism as explained in Wealth & Justice, American social science and progressivism have based their opposition to capitalism over the past century on the Rousseauian concept of human nature, or social constructionism. Evolutionary psychology has revealed social constructionism to be false as well as destructive. In our European-inspired universities of the late-nineteenth century, the doctrinc of social constructionism--there is no human nature except that formed by society and culture, through groups--grew into an article of faith in American sociology. The superorganic or group mind, instead of the individual mind, became a basic tenet of social science. The political science of progressivism was formulated to overcome the limits of the founding order. Rather than continuing the Founders' emphasis on individual responsibility and private sector opportunity, progressivism emphasizes equality--achievement of equal individual results through communal sharing to transform human nature. Evolutionary psychology is a biologically-informed humanism and better appreciation of the wondrous complexities of the human mind and intelligence, combining sciences of the mind, brain, genes, and evolution. This new science establishes that there is psychological unity of an immutable human nature with universal instincts beneath the superficial differences of physical appearance and parochial culture. It has substantiated our Founders' idea of an inherent, mixed human nature, and common sense regarding its limits. Evolutionary psychology has elucidated the following features of human nature. Human groups most commonly have an ethos of reciprocity, not communal sharing. Humans are envious zero-sum thinkers. They have a need for recognition or esteem from others. Human nature is hierarchical and was forged in competition; the drive for human dominance is universal. The partial heritability of intelligence implies that inequality will arise in perfectly fair economic systems. The human mind evolved modules for making judgments about property. As Wealth & Justice outlines, America was founded as a commercial republic to provide--following Adam Smith--for private pursuit by individuals of ambition, self-interest, prosperity, and esteem through a market (reciprocal exchange) system utilizing private property and capitalism. Our Founders rejected the contrary idea of the French Physiocrats that human nature is shaped by the state, whose theory Tocqueville characterized as "absolute equality, State control of the activities of individuals, despotic legislation, and the total submerging of each citizen's personality in the group mind"--a Gallic precursor to social constructionism. Wealth & Justice is highly recommended. Its well-crafted arguments establish conclusively that capitslism is the world's best economic system. As Americans, we should be grateful that our Founders recognized that system as most suitable for our common human nature.

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