What Money Is and Ought To Be


  • David G. Dick University of Calgary


money, ethics, social ontology, teleology, currency, Aristotle, John Locke, chartalism


Teleological thinking about money reasons from what money is for to both how it ought to be used and what forms it should take. One type, found in Aristotle’s argument against usury, takes teleological considerations alone to decisively settle normative questions. Another type, found in Locke’s argument about monetary durability, takes teleological considerations to contribute to the settling of normative questions, but sees them as one consideration among many. This paper endorses the type made by Locke while rejecting the type made by Aristotle, and identifies further teleological tendencies in the work of Adam Smith and other philosophers.


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Symposium on Money, Edited by Frank Hindriks and Joakim Sandberg