v6n8: Hersch on MacIntyre on Ethics in Financial Markets

The Irrelevance of Unsuccessful Traders, by Gil Hersch

A COMMENTARY ON Alasdair MacIntyre (2015), “The Irrelevance of Ethics,” in A. Bielskis and K. Knight (eds.), Virtue and Economy: Essays on Morality and Markets (London: Routledge):7–21. doi:10.4324/9781315548067

Alasdair MacIntyre argues that moral virtues are antithetical to what is required of those who trade in financial markets to succeed. MacIntyre focuses on four virtues and argues that successful traders possess none of them: (i) self-knowledge, (ii) courage, (iii) taking a long-term perspective, and (iv) tying one’s own good with some set of common goods. By contrast, I argue that (i)–(iii) are, in fact, traits of successful traders, regardless of their normative assessment. The last trait – caring about the common good – is often counterproductive in most for-profit ventures, including trading, and so singling out traders is inappropriate.

To download the full PDF, click here: Hersch on MacIntyre

Gil Hersch is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Philosophy Department and the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) at Virginia Tech.

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