2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Credit to Capitalism: a Philosophical Examination of the Most Enduring System of Our Time

Laura Cramphorn, 2010, Stage 3

The aims of this project are:

-To gain a greater depth of knowledge regarding the origins and definition of capitalism.
-To offer descriptions of the vast differences between Chinese and American capitalism.
-To give in depth analyses of the economies of both the United States and China.
-To open up capitalism as an economic concept to philosophical debate.
-To assess whether notions such as freedom and human potential are relevant in a discussion of capitalism.
-To make philosophical assertions about capitalism in advancing the worth of the human being and encouraging humanity’s ‘flourishing’.

Capitalism is the most enduring economic system of our time, there has to be a reason communism and Marxism have failed and why democratic led reform and capitalism have become the most successful political and economic systems. Capitalism is widely regarded as being able to give every single individual the opportunity to achieve wealth and the opportunity to involve themselves within the business of profit.

Max Weber’s account of the origins of capitalism in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism explains that religious protestant doctrine emphasises the moral goods of hard work, investment and discipline. During modernity, these ideals paved the way for the beginnings of unrestrained and individualist capitalism that is now the norm in the US. Weber identifies that an individual endeavours to involve himself in moral economic activity because of a ‘calling’ which can be seen as an obligation to God. Moreover, economic achievements were seen as the true measure of one’s moral standing.

I shall then focus on John Rawls’ most famous work, Political Liberalism; I believe that it is only in a liberal political system that true capitalism as we know it can be achieved. Liberal politics allows free trade and the opening up of an economy. The philosophical tradition of liberalism is widely regarded as enabling capitalism and engineering the free market that exists within some nations today.

My project will be a hermeneutical explanation of what capitalism essentially is, followed by an empirical investigation into the different strains of capitalism found in the USA and China and assess whether China can really be called a capitalist nation at all.

Sources used- Max Weber –The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and John Rawls – Political Liberalism.

Leave a Reply