Vice and economy


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Are vices always a bad thing or can society actually benefit from them? The 18th-century philosopher Bernard Mandeville thought that man is neither good nor bad; he is functional and follows only his self-interest. This can turn out good or bad. For example, prostitution and greed stimulate the economy.

Mandeville's ideas had a great impact via Adam Smith. Both these thinkers view the market as immoral and therefore are of the opinion that man and market need rules. In stark contrast with current leading economists who glorify the uncontrolled free market as a cure for the financial crisis.

During Descartes' night writer Arnon Grunberg will discuss man, vices and the free market with prof. Deirdre McCloskey (The University of Chicago). Dr. Harro Maas (REBO, UU) and prof. dr. Inger Leemans (Cultuurgeschiedenis, VU) will give an introduction.

In collaboration with Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities.