Virtues and the Market


Deirdre McCloskey, in her The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce, argues that the conception of virtue, as we have inherited it, cannot be directly applied to societies with functioning markets. This colloquium invited a mix of scholars and non-scholars to debate McCloskey’s thesis, along with primary historical works on virtue.


From Liberty Fund

The Theory of Moral Sentiments

by By Adam Smith
Edited by D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie

The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith’s first and in his own mind most important work, outlines his view of proper conduct and the institutions and sentiments that make men virtuous. Here he develops his doctrine of the impartial spectator, whose hypothetical disinterested judgment we must use to distinguish right from…

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Additional Readings

Inwood B. and L. P. Gerson, eds. Hellenistic Philosophy. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1997.

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Edited by Terence Irwin. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1999.

Aristotle. The Politics. Translated by T. A. Sinclair. London: Penguin Books, 1992.

Cicero. On Duties. Edited by M. T. Griffin and E. M. Atkins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Lewis, Sinclair. Babbitt. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1922.

Mandeville, Bernard. The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, Volume I. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1988.

McCloskey, Deirdre N. The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the "Spirit" of Capitalism and Other Writings. Edited by Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.

Wolfe, Tom. A Man in Full. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.