John Mackey (the libertarian-leaning founder of Whole Foods) in his recent speech to the Federalist Society gave a full-throated defense of capitalism: “It’s capitalism that creates innovations that create the progress in the world…And it’s lifting humanity literally out of the dirt.”[i] While I am fully in accord with these sentiments, I believe it is worth pausing a few moments to consider the nature of “capitalism,” so as to better understand its origins and consequently the fragile nature of its virtues.
One conventional definition of this term is “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.” However, we should understand that “capitalism” is not fundamental; it is not the intellectual analogue to one of the 118 elements displayed on the Periodic Table, but rather a “derivative,” meaning a substance comprised of one or more of these elements. In political economic terms what we call “capitalism” is the byproduct of and depends upon ordered liberty, or what we typically call today the rule of law.
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My friend Danny Frederick has just published an exciting book, Freedom, Indeterminism, and Fallibilism, that approaches many familiar but vexing problems in moral and political philosophy from an innovative, promising direction. Drawing on ideas presented in his large oeuvre of published work, and utilizing many of Karl Poppers’ important insights, Danny sets forth provocative theories regarding rationality; free will; the moral basis for individual freedom, and its limits; the functions of the liberal state; and the problem of political authority. Although overturning much of the conventional thinking on these topics, Danny’s arguments should be congenial to classical liberals and libertarians.
Danny graciously accepted my invitation to present his own synopsis of his book on my blog , which appears below. I am sure he will be happy to address any questions readers of this may have. I hope his book gets the wide readership it deserves. Here is a link to the publisher’s (Palgrave Macmillan) website, providing additional information, excerpts, and purchasing information. Continue Reading »