Philosophy of Money



Historical and etymological


Thales’ options, Republic, Nicomachean Ethics,  Arthashastra

Barter, trade, standard items leading to using things like beads, gold silver, currency and coinage 

Circumstances vary; sometimes the currency has no currency, but things like cigarettes do 


Money's when we believe in it (hence the language of faith, good faith and credit (from Latin verb for believing - credit and credo share the same linguistic source, fiduciary responsibility, trust).  Note relevance of work on the social construction of reality" - money is entangled with its users and creators beliefs and conventions.

Dollar bill auction

Tulips (Dutch, 1630s) and other bubbles

Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929

Other money for sale - lending, exchange (e.g., fluctuation of the Canadian dollar), investment, risk, religious restrictions on interest
Money and heroic risks,
  e.g., in the age of exploration

Inflation, what counts as enough, and some analogies (e.g., grade inflation)

Prediction, random walk theory, and Bogle's response to "you can't buy the index"  

Money and identity

Puritan ethos

Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter's   Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  


Fortune and Fortune (or Money and Luck)

Howard Campbell's speech on money in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan, Nancy Kress’s Beggars in Spain, Ecclesiastes’ “time and chance” 

   Taleb’s Stoic betting; responses in Jewish law and scripture – see, e.g., Lev. 19.9-10 (tzedakah, צדקה‎)


Michael Kagan 

Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY


(This outline is based on the preliminary lecture-discussion in PHL 403,   4/14/10 -
constructed with some changes with the help of S. Desnoyers' class notes.)

Some edits, 10/29/2010, 5/3/2017