David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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This paper examines the idea of moral capital in relation to commerce. Moral capital is found in the form of justice, beneficence and temperance. These concepts are explained and distinguished from related ideas of social capital and human capital. Following Hume, Smith and Hayek, the author treats justice and commerce as aspects of the same evolutionary process and challenges the traditional mistrust of commerce on moral grounds. The paper discusses the ways in which commerce strengthens morality and explains why the state can enforce justice but cannot practice or enforce beneficence without harm to justice. The discussion is concluded with some thoughts about the depletion of moral capital in rich and poor countries.
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