My friend Massimo Pigliucci, writing about Larry Summers on the blog Rationally Speaking, argues what I have long thought to be true — that economic considerations cannot be divorced from moral ones:

I simply do not buy the fundamentalist (yes, I’m using the term on purpose) libertarian idea that economics is all there is or that should count in pretty much all human transactions and social problems. The hallmark of a just society is precisely that it does consider issues of intrinsic rights — not just to life and property, as the libertarians would have it — but also to health, education, housing and jobs. The whole point of living in a structured society, as opposed to Hobbes’ war of all against all, is so that our lives are not going to be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Which means that what Summers dismisses as “social concerns” really ought to be central to the way we structure our societies. Economic systems ought to be the servants of human flourishing, not its masters.

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