The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce

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9780226556642: The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce
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For a century and a half, the artists and intellectuals of Europe have scorned the bourgeoisie. And for a millennium and a half, the philosophers and theologians of Europe have scorned the marketplace. The bourgeois life, capitalism, Mencken’s “booboisie” and David Brooks’s “bobos”—all have been, and still are, framed as being responsible for everything from financial to moral poverty, world wars, and spiritual desuetude. Countering these centuries of assumptions and unexamined thinking is Deirdre McCloskey’s The Bourgeois Virtues, a magnum opus that offers a radical view: capitalism is good for us.

McCloskey’s sweeping, charming, and even humorous survey of ethical thought and economic realities—from Plato to Barbara Ehrenreich—overturns every assumption we have about being bourgeois. Can you be virtuous and bourgeois? Do markets improve ethics? Has capitalism made us better as well as richer? Yes, yes, and yes, argues McCloskey, who takes on centuries of capitalism’s critics with her erudition and sheer scope of knowledge. Applying a new tradition of “virtue ethics” to our lives in modern economies, she affirms American capitalism without ignoring its faults and celebrates the bourgeois lives we actually live, without supposing that they must be lives without ethical foundations.

High Noon, Kant, Bill Murray, the modern novel, van Gogh, and of course economics and the economy all come into play in a book that can only be described as a monumental project and a life’s work. The Bourgeois Virtues is nothing less than a dazzling reinterpretation of Western intellectual history, a dead-serious reply to the critics of capitalism—and a surprising page-turner.

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About the Author:

Deirdre N. McCloskey is distinguished professor of economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Among her many books are Crossing: A Memoir and If You’re So Smart: The Narrative of Economic Expertise, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

From Publishers Weekly:

Eschewing the notion that capitalism is evil and the middle class is soft and cowardly, University of Illinois professor McCloskey argues that bourgeois economic practices and people promote the widest possible range of virtues. An economically free and prosperous middle class is not only peaceable, law-abiding and prudent, McCloskey argues, it can also be artistic and spiritual, and support traditional cultures, protect the environment, win wars, make discoveries and care for the unfortunate better than aristocratic or proletarian social organizations. Though her overarching aim is to develop a modern theory and taxonomy of virtues, promoting libertarian economic views and summarizing 250 years of normative economic writings, McCloskey only sketches her argument here; the details will be left to three subsequent volumes. Most of this book is a technical survey of virtues that emphasizes Catholic theology, though it includes material from other traditions. The prose style is arch and obscure, often relying on brief quotations from philosophers, economists and historians and then rebutting them. Without the future volumes, these challenging 600 pages represent a highly idiosyncratic survey with no obvious focus. (June)
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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. For a century and a half the artists and intellectuals of Europe have scorned the bourgeoisie. And for a millennium and a half the philosophers and theologians of Europe have scorned the marketplace. The bourgeois life, capitalism, Mencken s booboisie, and David Brooks bobos all have been, and still are, framed as responsible for everything from financial and moral poverty to world wars and spiritual desuetude. Countering these centuries of assumptions and unexamined thinking is Deirdre N. McCloskey s The Bourgeois Virtues , a magnum opus offering a radical view: capitalism is good for us. McCloskey s sweeping, charming, and even humorous survey of ethical thought and economic realities - from Plato to Barbara Ehrenreich - overturns every assumption we have about being bourgeois. Can you be virtuous and bourgeois? Do markets improve ethics? Has capitalism made us better as well as richer? Yes, yes, and yes, argues McCloskey, who takes on centuries of capitalism s critics with astonishing erudition and range of reference. Applying a new tradition of virtue ethics to our lives in modern economies, she affirms American capitalism without ignoring its faults and celebrates the bourgeois lives we actually live, without supposing that they must be lives without ethical foundations. High Noon, Kant, Bill Murray, the modern novel, Van Gogh, and, of course, economics and the economy all come into play in a book that can only be described as a monumental project and a life s work. The Bourgeois Virtues is nothing less than a dazzling reinterpretation of Western intellectual history, a dead-serious reply to the critics of capitalism - and surprising entertainment as well. Seller Inventory # AAC9780226556642

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