This is an undergraduate-level textbook that introduces classical political philosophy as a framework to evaluate the ethics of capitalism up to the present day. It is rooted in historical eighteenth- and nineteenth-century defenses of capitalism, as written by key proponents such as Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, and applies these arguments to contemporary issues such as wage inequality, global trade, climate change, and the welfare state.
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Can capitalism have moral foundations? Though this question may seem strange in today's world of vast economic disparities and widespread poverty, discussions originating with the birth of capitalism add a critical perspective to the current debate on the efficacy and morality of capitalist economies.
Authors Daniel Halliday and John Thrasher use this question to introduce classical political philosophy as a framework by which to evaluate the ethics of capitalism today. They revisit and reconstruct historical eighteenth- and nineteenth-century defenses of capitalism, as written by key proponents such as Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill. They ask what these early advocates of market order would say about contemporary economies, and argue for the importance of connecting these foundational
defenses to discussions of economic systems and the roles they play in economic justice and injustice today.
The textbook covers longstanding problems that are as old as the discussion of capitalism itself, such as wage inequality, global trade, and the connection between paid labor and human flourishing. It also addresses new challenges, such as climate change, the welfare state, and competitive consumption, and provides topical global case studies. Additionally, it includes study questions at the end of each chapter and an author-created companion website to help guide classroom