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November 20, 2009
Here are a couple of questions for our new topic, on ethics and money. As with all my Friday Questions (and Friday Responses in subsequent weeks), they are primarily aimed at those who have no or very little experience of philosophy, though of course I welcome comments from all, including those with some philosophical training. But their chief role is to form part of the work I am doing as Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy, and I want absolutely everyone to feel that they can take part in the debate.
Questions: Is there a necessary tension between ethical and economic considerations? And what is the role of money (whether making it, investing it or spending it) in the good life?
Here is (part of) the problem. Most of us are not primarily motivated by money, but only want money for other ends e.g the well-being of our children. Usually we are aware of this (though sometimes we may be so busy or stressed that we lose sight of the bigger picture). And yet most of us spend an enormous amount of our lives trying to make the money that we only value because we think it can buy us things that we value more.
Is there any solution to this apparent absurdity?
Some of my thoughts on these questions in my response next Friday, plus some further questions to enable you to clarify your own responses.