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Capitalism and Morality: Beyond Left and Right

RSA Event


Durham Street Auditorium, RSA House

  • Economics and Finance
  • Behaviour change
  • Social justice

Has capitalism lifted millions out of poverty and raised quality of life around the world, or is it an exploitative, unjust system that elevates the lucky and destroys the planet?

Economic issues are often moral issues. If you know where a person stands on the left-right spectrum, you can easily predict their preference for economic approaches like austerity or stimulus. One’s moral compass tends to dictate their response to even ‘factual’ matters like whether or not raising the minimum wage increases unemployment. What we believe influences what we perceive far more than we would like to admit to.

Renowned social psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues that most of us stick unswervingly to one of two persuasive stories about capitalism - with predictable consequences. He believes we must push ourselves beyond these entrenched narratives and develop a ‘third story’ – one that incorporates some of the objective truths of both, and abandons the gut-level assumptions on either side.


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