Probing the “moralization of capitalism” problem: Democratic experimentalism and the co-evolution of norms
In what sense can we aim to moralize the very system upon which we rely to formulate our notions of morality? This is the most fundamental issue raised by any discussion around the “moralization of capitalism”. In an even more general manner, one could express the issue in terms of the puzzle of second-order morality: How exactly is it possible to pass a moral judgment on our categories of moral judgment? How can our norms of morality be said to be “immoral”, thus calling for “(re-)moralization”? This puzzle rests, of course, on a particular version of historicism to which I will subscribe here: Capitalism as a system of practical interaction structures, and hence as a culture, has evolved out of moral imperatives and hence must be seen as a reflection and an enactment, rather than a violation, of these moral imperatives. Thus, as long as the moral norms and the interaction structures remain congruent, there is no straightforward to way to call capitalism “immoral”. The only legitimate reason to issue a call for its “(re-)moralization” is if this congruence has come undone; but how can that be, if not because some set of processes internal to capitalism has actually altered either (a) the structures of interaction, or (a’) the norms of morality, or (a”) both, in such a way that (b) they have become maladjusted and (c) this maladjustment is actually experienced as such by agents who are able to effect the required readjustments? But how can such internal processes be triggered? This is the puzzle of second-order morality when applied to capitalism
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