Saturday, May 07, 2005

Selling What Cannot Exist

Herzog at "Left2Right" has what he calls a skeptical challenge. Fill in the blank:

(C) ________________ is unnatural and therefore wrong.

And then provide an account of why (C) is true.

My off-the-top-of-my-head suggestion:

Usury is unnatural and therefore wrong.

My off-the-top-of-my-head account:

Money presupposes the stable existence of society, which is organized for common good; as a matter of common good, we need something that can serve as a medium of exchange and savings. Money (as such), therefore, has no legitimate use except as fulfilling this role. In usury, one attempts to use money as such not purely for the fulfilling of the role of being a medium of exchange and savings, but as a commodity for rent. Usury, being rationally perverse, is unnatural and therefore wrong; QED. Confirming evidence: Most forms of usury involve charging people for being in need.

Or to put it in Aristotelian terms: usury is very unnatural; or in the popular slogan: Money does not breed.

The rest of Herzog's argument, by the way, is (as far as I can see, at least) incoherent; not only does it recklessly conflate Aristotelian teleology with teleology in the later sense, it puts excessive emphasis on what are the unique conditions for human nature (which play no relevant role in the discussion, contrary to Herzog's implication), historically it fails to recognize that teleology in the later sense was not in any noticeable way replaced by the mechanistic view (indeed, it is a mechanistic view, arising for the same mechanistic reasons the design argument became so popular), the claim that teleologists were never able to explain why nature sometimes failed to realize her intentions is utterly absurd, it fails to recognize that the views he is criticizing can be formulated without appeal to nature, etc., etc.

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