Turning Vices into Virtues

swine-300x201 Turning Vices into Virtues

Turning Vices into Virtues

So often it is heard that the public good is obtained when men look after their own interests. While there might be some degree of truth in the idea, the real change was one of focus. The modern view shifted the whole perception of the public good. It is no longer an end but merely an effect of another end. Under such a vision, the public good is no longer to be sought but merely engineered as a side concern.

This can be seen in the case of greed. For centuries, the Church had warned against this vice for the harm that it does to the public good since it throws society and economy out of balance.

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During the eighteenth century, this concept of greed was sidelined and replaced with the belief that greed promoted economic production. In addition to this revised view of greed, there was the advance of utilitarianism which proclaimed that anything that helped production and progress was good and just. There were no fixed standards of right and wrong but only that which worked and that which did not.

“So comprehensive has been the triumph of this twin revolution,” writes Edward Skidelsky, “that sophisticated minds today find it hard not only to see the love of money as a vice, but to see how anything like the love of money ever could have been regarded as a vice.”

(Edward Skidelsky, “The Emancipation of Avarice,” Samuel Gregg and Harold James eds., Natural Law, Economics, and the Common Good, Imprint Academic, Charlottesville, Va., 2012, p. 155).


3 thoughts on “Turning Vices into Virtues

  1. “…the belief that greed promoted economic production.” This is one of the devil’s tricks. Greed does NOT promote economic production; it may APPEAR to, but just briefly.

    Steroids promote strength in athletes–just briefly–until it kills them!
    Cocaine promotes a feeling of well-being–just briefly–until it kills you!
    Gluttony promotes a feeling of satisfaction–for a little while–until it kills you!
    He who lives by the sword will die by the sword; Violence promotes a feeling of power–until it kills you.

    ANY vice/sin APPEARS to be pleasing–just briefly. Another word for addiction is “slavery to sin”. Greed is no different. The production stimulated by greed is NEVER sustainable, but this belief encourages short-sightedness, dishonesty, “workaholism”, “cutting corners” for poor quality, and ever-increasing dissatisfaction and massive debt, as everyone races to be “the first”.

    Greed is a poor substitute for charity, and a counterfeit of industriousness.

    • This is one of the best comments I’ve ever read online, both for its insight and its concise expression. Do you write professionally?

      • Thank you so much. You’re very kind. I don’t write professionally. I’m “just a mom” who’s old enough to remember that things were not always the way they are now, and can’t help but notice that our culture is disintegrating at an increasingly rapid pace.

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