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If "force" is defined as aggression against someone's property, what is the check on greed inherant in lassiez faire capitalism?

asked May 28 '11 at 13:27

gopumps's gravatar image


edited May 28 '11 at 19:16

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Greed is defined as excessive or rapacious desire, as in predatory practices, such as the mortgage mess we have gone through and the piracy of Wall Street. Either indirectly or directly millions had their money "stolen" by these thieves who continue to promote lassiez faire capitalism. The logical end state of unregulated capitalism is monopoly, or olligopoly. That is private statism. Remember Alan Greenspan was stupified that the balance of "self-interest" did not work.

(May 28 '11 at 21:16) gopumps gopumps's gravatar image

gopumps, please feel free to edit your question to make it as complete and clear as you can; there is no need to annotate it with comments. And please note that your definition categorically conflicts with your clarification; a species of desire is not a species of practice.

As for your comments on capitalism, that is a simple matter of confusion over the referents of the concept. Greenspan and the statist goons and profiteers around the mortgage mess are advocates of the opposite of capitalism. Calling a dog a cat doesn't make it a cat.

(May 29 '11 at 01:30) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greed is conventionally understood as "intense" or "excessive" desire for wealth in some form. But notice that desires are not themselves any form of force or coercion. It is the actions one takes which may constitute aggression -- whether or not they are based in such a desire.

Suppose someone "intensely" desires, say, my car. They might offer to buy my car, which would be perfectly rights-respecting and therefore perfectly compatible with laissez-faire capitalism. Or they might try to steal it, which would be a violation of my rights, and therefore utterly incompatible with capitalism.

Being the social/economic system that flows from the recognition and defense of individual rights, capitalism needs no check on greed because it does not constitute any threat to others' rights. Any "excessive" desire for wealth on someone's part would only constitute a threat to their own life, as it is the product of a confused heirarchy of values which could lead them to act against their own long-term interests. That is simply not a matter for the law.

(It is a bit of a distraction for the above discussion, but notice that the conventional understanding of greed treats "intense desire" and "excessive desire" as essentially the same in an evaluative sense. That would be a package deal that bundles together fundamentally dissimilar things, and therefore it will encourage various confusions. Someone intensely valuing wealth is not morally troubling at all, and that intensity could easily be a sign of great virtue. On the other hand, someone excessively valuing wealth means that there is necessarily confusion or conflict in his hierarchy of values, which is indeed worthy of a negative evaluation. Yet the evaluative connotations around "greedy" puts both of these in the same normative bucket. That is very dangerous for people who want to think clearly about such matters, which should be all of us.)

answered May 28 '11 at 20:02

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

And with utter respect for the elephant in the room, the premise that a Laissez Faire Capitalistic system's logical end is Monopoly is false. Artificially controlled and regulated economic systems do. Government hands in the kitty skew the results significantly. There has never been a monopoly without government intervention.

(May 28 '11 at 21:36) dreadrocksean dreadrocksean's gravatar image

Greg's answer is a very good one. I'd like to add that under laissez-faire, The only way that excessive desire for something could legally manifest itself would be that someone would offer too much money for something they wanted to buy. For instance, if I wanted YOUR cup of coffee too much, I'd offer you $50 for it. In such case, I believe you wouldn't feel victimized. Only I would suffer for my poor judgment.

Laissez-faire doesn't legalize force, or encourage stupid desire. Quite the opposite.

(May 29 '11 at 07:25) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

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Asked: May 28 '11 at 13:27

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Last updated: May 29 '11 at 07:29