« There Is Little Happiness to Be Found in Happiness-Based Policy | Main | Supreme Court Allows Same-Sex Marriages to Proceed »

October 5, 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I think you're going too easy on the founders regarding slavery, Jonathan. This is, of course, America's original sin, and the direct result of the failure of the founders to grapple with it properly led directly to the Civil War. It's really hard to imagine that any 18th century solution would have been worse.

The rhetoric of liberty utilized in both official and informal documents by the founders is compromised by this failing. It is why many of the first political Americans were ultimately tragic figures: the system in which they thrived was eventually smashed, due in no small part to the body of writings they left behind, even if it took 175 years.

I'm in hearty agreement with your market analogy, as I'm sure you can imagine. In reference to your small-town example, many market fundamentalists would argue, roughly, that a community should have precisely the market equilibrium of morality. In other words, if (nearly) the whole town preferred segregated shops, then the efficient quantity of minority shoppers and clerks would be zero. This is a compelling argument on the surface, but is ultimately immoral, I think rather obviously.

Thanks, Jonas. Excellent points! I am not an expert on early American history, but if a compromise on slavery had not been reached, would a constitution bringing the nation together have been possible? Probably not. And that means we would have had at least two separate nations moving in different directions, never to unite. Would that ultimately have been a good or bad thing?

Yeah, the counterfactual here is a really tough one, but it's no question that the seeds of the Civil War were sown in the Constitution. That sainted bloody document might as well have been the death warrant for 600,000 people.

I suppose it is possible to imagine a two-state solution in 1793 in which the North outcompetes the South economically over the following 75 years. This, of course, happened in a way. In a two-state world, maybe the North is able to exert a more effective form of political influence over the South with regards to slavery, especially since, in this period, mercantilism is still prevalent.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Accepting the Invisible Hand: Market-Based Approaches to Social-Economic Problems, Mark D. White (ed)

Beyond Social Capital: A Critical Approach, Irene van Stavern and Peter Knorringa (eds)

Economics and the Mind, Barbara Montero and Mark D. White (eds)

Ethics and Economics: New Perspectives, Mark D. White and Irene van Staveren (eds)

Ethics in Economics: An Introduction to Moral Frameworks, Jonathan B. Wight

The Feminist Economics of Trade, Irene van Staveren et al (eds)

Handbook of Economics and Ethics, Jan Peil and Irene van Staveren (eds)

The Illusion of Well-Being: Economic Policymaking Based on Respect and Responsiveness, Mark D. White

Kantian Ethics and Economics: Autonomy, Dignity, and Character, Mark D. White

Law and Social Economics: Essays in Ethical Values for Theory, Practice, and Policy, Mark D. White (ed.)

The Manipulation of Choice: Ethics and Libertarian Paternalism, Mark D. White

Retributivism: Essays on Theory and Policy, Mark D. White (ed.)

Saving Adam Smith: A Tale of Wealth, Transformation, and Virtue, Jonathan B. Wight

Street Porter and the Philosopher: Conversations on Analytical Egalitarianism, Sandra J. Peart and David M. Levy (eds)

Teaching the Ethical Foundations of Economics, Jonathan B. Wight and John S. Morton et al

Theoretical Foundations of Law and Economics, Mark D. White (ed.)

The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination, Chrisoula Andreou and Mark D. White (eds)

The Values of Economics: An Aristotelian Perspective, Irene van Staveren

The Vanity of the Philosopher: From Equality to Hierarchy in Postclassical Economics, Sandra J. Peart and David M. Levy