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  1. Capitalism


    Is Capitalism Humane?


Subject Law and governance Pages 3 Style APA


Is Capitalism Humane?


Over the years, raging debates have been made on which economic and political system is more humane than the other. Proponents of the two conflicting premises cite various objectives and characteristics that define each, but the main question concerns the results achieved in the real world. By focusing on the objectives alone, it is impossible to judge which premise is humane or inhumane. Capitalism is a market system that allegedly gives everyone an equal opportunity to produce and earn to the best of their ability, backed up with unlimited economic freedom, but to others, it could also be this oppressive system that only favors the rich at the expense of the common people, thereby creating economic inequality. The underlying trait is the principle of free exchange and voluntary participation. Socialism, on the other hand, has always been perceived as an involuntary system that thrives on force of position and power (Jeffreys, 2019). While the latter appears ideal for an equal society, the results have not held up to its promised standards. In order to understand the humanity of capitalism, this paper shall focus on its criticisms, while making comparison to socialism. Pragmatically speaking, this system is neither humane nor inhumane, as it ensures that power is not centralized; but on the flip side, it promotes self-interest and inequality.

The primary incentive that capitalism offers is self-interest, which forms the basic motivation for every person’s actions. In any transaction or engagement in a capitalistic system, everyone focusses on what they would gain, hence creating an interaction borne out of voluntary exchange (Jeffreys, 2019). This system ultimately creates a society that rewards hard work, but punishes the uncreative and common people. In the end, there must be an obvious inequality since not everyone emerges a winner. Driven by self-interest, the rich become richer while the poorer dissipate further into poverty. This is contrary to a socialist system where people are forced to give their wealth and energy to a central government which then decides how to equally distribute it with the aim of promoting social interest (Friedman, 2012). However, looking at the economic position of countries which practice each of the systems, it is clear that capitalism has proven to foster social interest better, by promoting individual creativity and growth.

Due to its aggressive nature, capitalism has been known to produce a man-eat-man society. This, plainly, disqualifies it from being humane. Since the primary objective of a capitalist system is profit, it is seen to promote selfishness, shrewdness, and demented standards of morality. Economic powers that practice capitalism are largely corrupt, and have a huge inequality in wealth distribution. However, Milton Friedman, in his Cornell University Lecture dubbed “Is Capitalism Humane?” disagrees with opinions that focus on dehumanizing capitalism, by explaining that inasmuch as socialism seems ideal, the translation of those perfect objectives into reality is impossible (Friedman, 2012). Additionally, he warns against judging capitalism based on morality, since the definition of moral values is diverse, and can only be based on an individual. His argument dislodges the entire perspective of normative economics, and espouses more practical schools of thought such as economic power and per capita income (Friedman, 2012). The word “humane” thus, becomes a subjective term that is difficult to quantify.

Conclusively, capitalism can neither be outright inhumane or humane, but should be judged based on the achieved results. Each economy has the ability of effectively applying its adopted economic and political system to achieve best results, much the same way those systems can be flawed to create inequality and foster crime such as corruption and other ills against humanity. Generally, Capitalism is largely humane since it fosters social interest by promoting individual growth and independence.



Friedman, M. (2012). Is Capitalism humane? Free to Choose Network. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Tf8RN3uiM on 28 September, 2020.

Jeffreys, D. S. (2019). Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy. By Mary L. Hirschfeld.




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