On Nov 17, the Center for the Philosoph of Freedom will host Mike Munger, Professor of Political Science and Economics, Duke University, and our own Dan Russell, Professor of Philosophy, as part of the Freedom Center Colloquium Series. Their paper is entitled "Can Profit-Seekers Be Virtuous?" (Abstract below.) Please contact Chris Howard, firstname.lastname@example.org , for a copy of the paper.
Tuesday, Nov 17, 12:30-1:45pm, in the Kendrick Room at the Freedom Center, Marshall 280 (right above Paradise Bakery). Feel free to bring lunch.
For further information, please visit the Arizona Freedom Center at http://freedomcenter.arizona.edu/colloquium
The age-old charge against middlemen is that since they trade for profit, at best they have no virtuous intent, and at worst they are vicious for gaining at the expense of other people. We argue that profit-seekers can also be virtuous people, if three conditions are all met:
1. The exchanges are truly voluntary, or “euvoluntary,” in a sense we explain;
2. The profits are “real” profits, earned through a competitive market process, and not “rent-seeking” profits, obtained through a privilege-based political process; and
3. The intent of the profit-seeker is virtuous.
When the first two conditions are met, profits arise from creating value for others, unlike rent-seeking which really does take from others. Under these conditions, what profit-seekers do is not vicious—on the contrary, it is beneficial. More than that, profit-seekers act with virtuous intent when they intend to earn real profits by participating in a competitive process that creates real value rather than by seeking rents. And while there is never a guarantee that profit-seekers will be virtuous, market forces that limit profit opportunities to real profits are far more favorable to good character than political forces that reward rent-seeking.