2.1.4 Response to Exercise


Basically, the argument that was made in the nineteenth century for capitalism rests on seeing human beings in the way already summarized – as individuals who are driven in all they do by ‘utility’, that is, to maximize pleasure and avoid pain.  For each of us to achieve this, we need to trade with others in markets, buying what we want and selling to others what they want.  For this we all need liberty to trade – ‘liberty’ simply in the sense of an absence of things stopping us from doing that.  The less there is that stops us pursuing utility by dealing with other people in markets, including by selling our own labour and buying other people’s, the better the overall result will be.  If such economic liberty and the resulting ‘free trade’ can be combined with the methods of mechanized production, so much the better, because more ‘goods’ will be produced, from which people can get ‘utility’. The overall result for the whole society will therefore be the best it can be.

That, in summary, is the argument for industrial capitalism.



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