Capital virtues

There has always been an uncomfortable connection between Sunday-morning and Monday-morning Christianity. On Sunday morning the classic virtues of faith, hope and love are preached and sometimes practiced. On Monday morning the virtue of prudence is the norm, with the supportive virtues of justice, courage and temperance added to make prudence acceptable.

In the economics classroom, prudence is the foundation of analysis because to be prudent is to wisely follow one’s interests in a system of free trade in which everyone gains. Following the rules of the game is just, taking appropriate risks is courageous, and avoiding extremes in markets by exercising temperance will lead to efficiency in the long run. But what about faith, hope and love? Is there a place for those virtues in the market system? And how does prudence fit into authentic Christian ethics?

 

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