The Justice-Morality Matrix

There's a lot of discussion about whether particular policies or outcomes are just or moral.  Often the terms are used synonymously or never really defined or distinguished. I have written about what I see as crucial and fundamental differences between justice and morality in this post.  I claim…


Four Visions of the World: Constrained, Unconstrained, Stasist, Dynamist

About half a dozen years ago, I read two books in succession that I did not expect to have much to do with each other.  They both proposed intriguing dichotomies.  These dichotomies cut up the world differently, but I began to see interesting ways they could be layered on top of each other. The…


Profit is a Better Goal Than 'Social Good'

Yesterday I got an email from Kickstarter that at first I laughed off as silly PR and signalling.  Then it made me sad.  Then it made me upset. I like Kickstarter.  I use it.  It's a supercool platform and has opened up a whole new world of crowdfunding, the effects and…


Justice and Morality

It seems there's a difference between justice and morality.  I've never quite come to a comfortable conclusion about the nature of the two concepts and their relationship, but it's worth exploring. Suppose you jump in someone else's car parked in the valet entrance at a hotel and speed away to get…


Where Are All the Factories?

My wife and I recently watched a few seasons of Stargate Atlantis on Netflix. (Go ahead, say it.) Something that always bugs me about the show and many like it is the incredibly unrealistic way in which alien societies are portrayed. There are countless episodes where the team finds a new planet…


Crowd Funding vs.Taxation

The main justification given for taxation is that it solves a collective action problem.  Everyone would be better off, we are told, with the construction of a road or a park, but no individual has the incentive to pay for it, and if a collection were taken up, everyone would shirk and expect the…


Capitalism is Beautiful

Part eight in a series of eight on the morality of capitalism. Beauty is not often on lists with virtues like peace, honesty and humility. But true beauty is a virtue—it is awe-inspiring, praise-evoking and brings the kind of joy that humans seek for fulfillment. When I think of life's best…


Capitalism or What?

Part seven in a series of eight on the morality of capitalism. When analyzing any social or economic system, the three most important words are: "Compared to what?" Capitalism has its shortcomings. It has shortcomings because life has shortcomings in our own subjective evaluations. That is, we can…


Capitalism is Not...

Part six in a series of eight on the morality of capitalism. Capitalism gets saddled with a lot of baggage that doesn't properly belong to it. Some of this is the result of ignorance of basic economics, some of it a poor reading of history, but most of it is due to a bad definition of capitalism.…


Capitalism is Responsible

Part five in a series of eight on the morality of capitalism. "All things are subject to the law of cause and effect." The opening sentence in Carl Menger's 1871 "Principles of Economics" seems at first glance little more than a truism, but it is an idea so foundational and so often ignored that…