C. Promoting interpersonal virtues

In one sense, the advantages listed in this category could be included with the “personal virtues” listed in the previous section. But we thought it useful to have this separate category of virtues that have more of an effect on other people than on oneself.[1]

Meeting the needs of others

Many scholars remind us that a competitive free market was the first social system in human history to direct man’s desire toward peacefully supplying greater quantities of goods and services for his fellow human beings.[2] Hayek clearly explained the efficacy of the free market in his 1944 book The Road to Serfdom. Other good books followed, but Milton Friedman’s 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom then produced a veritable flood of scholarly books, essays, and other materials on the beneficial implications of free markets. Frank Knight, Henry Simons, James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, George Stigler, Yale Brozen, Harold Demsetz, Murray Weidenbaum, Thomas Sowell, and George Gilder are just a few of those contributing to understanding and instituting the free-market order. Most mention that the working class and the poor are its chief beneficiaries, for in generation after generation the poor take advantage of the opportunities available in a free-market system to rise out of poverty.

  • [1] There is some overlap between the categories because the personal virtues also influence otherpeople, and the interpersonal virtues flow from a person’s own character. It is a distinction in emphasis,not an absolute distinction, and which virtues go in which list makes no difference to our argument.
  • [2] See, for example, Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation (New York: Basic Books, 1984); J. R. Clarkand Dwight R. Lee, “Markets and Morality,” Cato Journal 31, no. 2 (Winter 2011); Milton Friedman,Capitalism and Freedom: A Leading Economist’s View on the Proper Role of Competitive Capitalism (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1962); Charles A. Murray, In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government (NewYork: Simon and Schuster, 1989); Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves (New York:Harper Collins, 2010).
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