The Bourgeois Virtues
- Ethics for an Age of Commerce
- Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin
- Length: 23 hrs and 19 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 12-13-16
- Language: English
- Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC
Regular price: $24.49
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McCloskey's sweeping, charming, and even humorous survey of ethical thought and economic realities - from Plato to Barbara Ehrenreich - overturns every assumption we have about being bourgeois. Can you be virtuous and bourgeois? Do markets improve ethics? Has capitalism made us better as well as richer? Yes, yes, and yes, argues McCloskey, who takes on centuries of capitalism's critics with her erudition and sheer scope of knowledge. Applying a new tradition of "virtue ethics" to our lives in modern economies, she affirms American capitalism without ignoring its faults and celebrates the bourgeois lives we actually live, without supposing that they must be lives without ethical foundations.
High Noon, Kant, Bill Murray, the modern novel, van Gogh, and of course economics and the economy all come into play in an audiobook that can only be described as a monumental project and a life's work. The Bourgeois Virtues is nothing less than a dazzling reinterpretation of Western intellectual history, and a dead-serious reply to the critics of capitalism.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Benzion N. Chinn on 04-24-18
An Important Follow Up for Anyone Reading Ayn Rand
What other book might you compare The Bourgeois Virtues to and why?
What McCloskey offers is a virtue ethics defense of capitalism. This is very similar to Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy in books such as Atlas Shrugged. The advantage of McCloskey is that she is able to capture the heroic nature of free enterprise without some of Rand's baggage. For example, when reading Atlas Shrugged it is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the story is an apology for greed and being a sociopath. In truth, if you are paying attention, none of Rand's heroes are actually motivated by money or personal material benefit. Part of the problem is Rand's self-inflicted wound of praising "selfishness" even though, for her, that word means something very different from how it is usually used. Rand was an explicit virtue ethicist and saw capitalism as having an inherent moral value, regardless of its ability to improve anyone's life. Engaging in the process of market exchanges teach a person to not want something they have not earned. Furthermore, a person learns to value creativity in oneself as well as in other people.
For those intrigued by this model of capitalist virtue ethics, McCloskey offers a wider historical context for such a position. In contrast to Rand's atheist materialism, McCloskey connects capitalism to the "Christian" virtues of faith, hope, and charity as opposed to mere prudence. Just in case anyone is turned off by the Christian material in the book, there are also numerous references to Jewish sources.