The Death of Socrates

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I’ve always thought of morality as coming from one of two sources: driven either by religion or philosophy. Morality based on religion requires a leap of faith while morality based on philosophy makes my head hurt. But Hayek suggested a third basis for morality: market based morality, which I take to mean a morality which evolved over time based on trial and error.

I find this idea enormously appealing. There’s no reliance on a supernatural source and none of the dead-ends and contradictions that all philosophical systems seem to encounter. Morality, or the right thing to do, is what it is because it works better than the alternatives tried to date. People and societies with the “right” view of morality simply have more satisfactory outcomes. This morality gradually, over the centuries perhaps, comes to prevail.

This also allows for new moral quandaries where there is little or no history. Abortion? Gay rights? Human cloning? The jury is still out, despite what progressives and conservatives might say.

Maybe I’m the last to see it, but I find this way of thinking about morality very helpful.


One response to this post.

  1. If the market is the basis for morality, people can starve and no one need lose any sleep over it. Bad conclusion.


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