Mention the word bourgeois and thousands of heads will turn with scorn and disdain as if this is an evil name. People have developed a misconstrued perception of wealth to warrant discriminating against rich people. There have been continued efforts to unify the world by developing strategies aimed at promoting social and economic equality.
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However, these efforts bear no fruits since divisions are created as hatred between the rich and poor intensifies (McCloskey 23). There is no doubt that people must appreciate the advantages of capitalism in advancing the society. This essay is a response to Rodrigo Mantica’s paper ‘Reviewing the Bourgeois Virtues’.
There is no doubt that wealth is one of the coveted aspects of human life. People will use all means possible to acquire and keep wealth. However, before discussing wealth it is necessary to mention that all human activities are motivated by the desire to seek happiness.
He presents the path to happiness as filled with various social and economic factors. These factors may be moral or immoral depending on an individual’s perceptions of their appropriateness since wealth in itself is not an end but a means to happiness (Smith 11). Richness is not a crime as depicted by many people provided the path followed is right.
According to Mantica, business activities offer individuals equal opportunities to explore their talents and skills; therefore, people with extra ordinary skills stand high chances of ruling markets (McCloskey 32). Monopoly is one of the ways of demonstrating individuals’ use of their skills. When people work hard to acquire wealth they seek to make themselves happy by having everything at their disposal.
In addition, Mantica proposes that reason should be a moral driving force in acquiring wealth. According to him, McCloskey is right in advocating for solidarity in advancing people’s collective desires. Therefore, reason becomes an inevitable aspect in acquiring wealth. People should strive to acquire wealth and justify their means using moral aspects like prudence and trust.
Even though, prudence in itself has weak moral connotations it is vital to consider weighty sides of prudence that guide human activities (McCloskey 56). People interpret self interest as an evil way of acquiring wealth.
However, Mantica confirms that self interest brings people of similar interest together and thus becomes an effective tool of advancing their dreams. When people with similar self interests come together, they form formidable forces that will promote their interests. Solidarity enables them identify strategies that will promote these interests. Within these groups, there must be competitions to ensure the best person outruns others.
The article identifies the significance of economic and social differences in society. The differences in knowledge, interests, skills and efforts determine how effective individuals use their resources (Smith 21). This explains the differences in wealth of people earning equal salaries and living in same societies. Some people will remain poor due to their experiences, efforts and interests in wealth. Therefore, the bourgeois have a right to own wealth despite the high rate of poverty in the society.
The article further notes the need to identify the actual meaning of words like prudence, greed and prudence. Greed is an endless desire to have wealth (physical and emotional) for self interest. Prudence is the process of considering the results of an activity before doing it; therefore, a foundation for other virtues. Mantica considers these definitions as contradictory to claims against the appropriateness of wealth acquisition.
There is a close link between other human virtues and self interest. While greed and prudence seem to work in opposite directions, they are nonetheless related to each other. When an individual wants to offer donations to humanitarian organizations, the person is motivated by self interests of fulfilling their social responsibilities and not helping the less fortunate in society.
Therefore, philanthropists are not justified to be moral by giving their wealth to the poor (Smith 48). Prudence will subject the society to extreme poverty, jealousy and social evils due to the presence of weak morals.
Individuals are justified to be greedy and acquire wealth provided they respect other aspects like trust. Mantica confirms Hobbes’ thoughts of social agreements as essential tools for advancing human virtues and promoting wealth acquisition (Smith 49). He argues that love in itself is not a virtue since it is based on reciprocity. People love others to get social or economic security and not just to express their feelings.
He concludes that all human activities are not selfless since thy have strings attached to them (McCloskey 78). Therefore, it is necessary to allow natural forces like greed to shape social, economic and political lives. People must be in their right positions until they identify ways of improving their social and economic status. Governments must not push people to live lives they have not fought for since this will waste resources and time.
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Mantica supports greed as an essential tool that governs human behavior. It motivates people to work hard to acquire wealth. At the same time, others follow suit and evolve towards a rush for a noble society.
McCloskey, Deirdre N. The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006. Print.
Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1955. Print.