Monday, January 11, 2016

The Separation Of Morality From The Modern University And Its Social Impact

This article is about the transformation of philosophy from the pursuit of virtue as it was absorbed into the research university.  Philosophers gave up the pursuit of virtue in order to demonstrate how smart they had become as they imitated the natural scientists and social scientists who pursued objective knowledge.  This article provides a critique of modern philosophy but it is even more apparent in modern economics.  Milton Friedman declared that economics was an objective science and that it no moral purpose.  It did not matter how the output of the economy was distributed as long as it pursued efficiency.  Friedman also issued a commandment about the mission of the corporation.  Its purpose was to maximize profits and shareholder value.  The corporation has no moral purpose; it is only constrained by laws which it should play a major role in determining.  It is not surprising that corporate incentive systems have evolved so that corporate executives and shareholders have a common interest.  It is also not surprising that executives, who are rewarded for short term performance,  would take risks that might be harmful to society and to longer term shareholders.  Few of the executives who contributed to the financial crisis faced criminal prosecution.  The executives at Volkswagen took risks that rewarded them in the short term, but they do not face criminal prosecution for violating laws that were designed to protect society.  The long term survival of Volkswagen has also been put at risk. 

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