Fractional Reserve Banking, Honesty, Trust in Business, and More
Q&A Radio: 8 March 2015
I answered questions on fractional reserve banking, fraud, and deception, people unworthy of the truth, deception in a business partner, and more on 8 March 2015. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.
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Segments: 8 March 2015
Question: Does fraud require deliberate deception? Some libertarians, most notably Walter Block, have tried to argue that fraud does not require deliberate deception. For example, argues Block, if I tried to sell you a square circle, and I believed that square circles existed, and so did you, and you agreed to the transaction, then, since square circles do not actually exist, this would still count as fraud, even though no deliberate deception has taken place. Block has used this argument to indict fractional reserve banking, by arguing that it still counts as fraud even though all parties are knowingly consenting. Is he talking rationalist nonsense?
Answer, In Brief: The libertarian arguments about fractional reserve banking as inherently fraudulent are wrong and silly. False beliefs do not render transactions fraudulent: some kind of intentional or negligent deception is required.
Question: Are some people unworthy of the truth? "Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it," said Mark Twain in his Notebooks. Is that true? Does that justify lying or withholding information?
Answer, In Brief: A decent person deals with other people squarely, whether by communicating honestly with them or keeping away. Attempting to justify deception on the grounds that others are unworthy destroys your character and makes you "unworthy" by your own standards.
Question: How can I decide whether a business associate has crossed the line? I am part of a very specialized marketing co-op group. Businesses provide samples to the marketer, who then sells them at his own profit, to the tune of thousands of dollars a month. The marketer also does many web promotions and a monthly set of videos to promote the makers of these samples. This business has worked well in sending customers my way in the past. However, a few months ago, the marketer threatened to call the whole thing off for a month, claiming there were not enough samples to sell. So all the businesses rallied and sent in more. Two weeks later the marketer posted publicly that his spouse's hours had been cut the month before, and he was strapped for cash. This apparent dishonesty turned me off from using the service for many months. When I finally sent in samples again, I found that the same thing is still happening: the marketer is threatening to call off the promotion for the month if more samples are not sent in. Does this kind of behavior warrant dropping this business tool from my arsenal? Or am I just reacting emotionally?
Answer, In Brief: This marketer is flying a slew of red flags: he seems dishonest, manipulative, and sleazy. Don't tolerate that or try to manage it: you'll lose. Cut ties and find better people to promote your work.
Rapid Fire Questions (51:41)
- Would you pay $10,000 for an 18 karat gold Apple Watch?
- Should children be taught about sexual sadism and masochism?
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.
From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.
My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.
I can be reached via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.