Course Description

Philosophers might seem like the very last people to ask about money, since they are usually so bad at making it. But even Adam Smith himself, author of Wealth of Nations and father of capitalism, was a philosopher before he was an economist and had some surprising things to say about money and wealth. Smith was no outlier. Since at least Aristotle, philosophers have had interesting and provocative things to say about money. In this class, you will look at a few of them and discuss issues such as money and the nature of value, the ethics of wealth and charity, and money’s relationship to happiness. This will involve covering why Aristotle thought banking was evil, why Adam Smith thought ambition was a curse, and what a Nobel Prize winning economist has to say about how much it costs to be happy.

Course Details

By completion of this course, successful students will be able to:

  • Describe Aristotle’s and Adam Smith’s views about money and wealth.
  • Discuss recent empirical work on income and happiness.
  • Discuss the nature of monetary value and moral value, and the relationship between the two.
  • Form a reflective view about what money is and what it is good for.

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