Could price gouging during a crisis actually be moral?

Price gouging is prohibited in 34 US states and Washington D.C. But two scholars ask whether that's the way it should be.

  • Paper products, hand sanitizer, masks, and cleaning wipes—all are in high demand and short supply during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Price gougers are viewed as villains in this crisis—but two scholars argue that price gouging is, in most cases, morally permissible.
  • Increased prices prevent unnecessary hoarding. Buyers purchase only what they need when they need it. Also, producers are incentivized to make more. When the supply rises, prices will fall.
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Two arguments for limited government and expanded civil society

The associations of civil society give us freedom to find systems that meet our needs.

Two arguments for limited government and expanded civil society | Lauren Hall ...
  • There are three subsets of civil society: primary, secondary, and tertiary associations.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology professor Lauren Hall says there are two arguments for expanding civil society and limiting the power of government, and they include elements of efficiency, morality, and coercion.
  • Ideally in civil society, secondary associations give you more freedom to meet your needs in various ways. If we relied more heavily on civil society rather than government, we'd have more wiggle room to find systems that work for us.

How does intellectual humility unlock greater knowledge?

Practicing Socratic ignorance, or avoiding certainty of our own knowledge, diminishes inequality and pushes us in our search for wisdom.

How does intellectual humility unlock greater knowledge? | Bradley Jackson | dotcom
  • Classical liberalist thinking is based on the fundamental notion that we're all equal as citizens within our governmental order. This thought lends itself to the specific principle of intellectual humility.
  • Senior Program Officer at the Institute for Humane Studies, Bradley Jackson provides the definition of intellectual humility as recognition that we have imperfect knowledge of the world. If each of us remains intellectually humble, this levels us as equals.
  • Putting this into practice calls for a level of social trust, and maintaining this liberal democracy requires that we view each other as equals in these moral and political ways.

What elements make up our idea of justice?

In classical liberalism, justice leaves society better off by providing a chance for a better life.

What elements make up our idea of justice? | David Schmidtz | ...
Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • How can we ensure people get what they are due, in terms of justice?
  • Philosophy professor at University of Arizona, David Schmidtz says the answer to this question needs context. Who is the person we're referring to, and to what are we responding?
  • Some elements of justice include equality, returning favors, and the right to air grievances.
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What authority should government have over our actions?

The ability to interact peacefully and voluntarily provides individuals a better quality of life.

Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • In classical liberal philosophy, voluntary action says the scope of legitimate government authority is extremely narrow.
  • While not all classical liberals agree on immigration policy, the question remains: What right does a government have to stop someone from moving to another country should they so choose?
  • As an immigrant, himself, Georgetown University professor Peter Jaworski invites us to consider the freest countries in the world and examine the economic freedom and civil liberties their citizens enjoy.

Why the presumption of good faith can make our lives civil again

Taking time for thoughtful consideration has fallen out of fashion, writes Emily Chamlee-Wright. How can we restore good faith and good judgement to our increasingly polarized conversations?

Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • The clamor of the crowd during a heated discussion can make it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong. Adam Smith wrote that the loudness of blame can stupefy our good judgment.
  • Equally, when we're talking with just one other person, our previous assumptions and knee-jerk reactions can cloud our good judgment.
  • If you want to find clarity in moments like that, Emily Chamlee-Wright recommends practicing the presumption of good faith. That means that we should presume, unless we have good evidence to the contrary, that the other person's intent is not to deceive or to offend us, but to learn our point of view.
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