PHIL 221 Money, Markets, and Morals


This course explores a host of issues at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics, especially issues concerning wealth and its relation to human flourishing. Among the questions we’ll consider are: What is capitalism? What are the pros and cons of organizing our economic lives that way? What is socialism? What are its pros and cons? What is exploitation and when (if ever) are workers exploited? What is private property and is there any moral justification for it? How is wealth created? Is there anything unjust about wealthy inequality? If so, what role (if any) should the government play in bringing about wealthy equality? What is the proper aim (or aims) of businesses: Profits? Benefitting employees? Benefiting the local community? Alleviating poverty? If all of those, which takes precedence when those aims conflict? What should be for sale and what shouldn’t? For example, should we be allowed to sell our organs, or drugs, or our sexual services? What constitutes ethical pay? For example, are CEOs making five hundred times their employees paid too much? Should there be a minimum wage? If so, why and what should it be? If not, why not? Finally, are there any standard market practices that are morally off limits such as price-gouging, sweatshops, or the factory farming of animals?