My son and a few friends immediately reminded me that I have been a champion of the amoral quality of commerce for decades. So why am I now talking about the moral values of commerce?
It is a good and legitimate question.
Commerce is absolutely amoral as a system. I will sell you my goods and services whether you are the Archangel Michael or Mephistopheles, a hospice nurse or a teenage drug dealer.
On the other hand the values that promote commerce are indeed moral. Diversity, meritocracy and openness are what promote commerce and they are moral values.
Commerce itself operates as an amoral system and its output is amoral. But the values that are promoted by commerce are moral.
This unusual combination is more understandable in the realm of technology. When a bridge is built it is just as helpful to a wheelchair-bound invalid as it is to an enemy tank. Amoral. On the other hand technology encourages reliable recordkeeping, innovation, mathematics, openness, meritocracy and pragmatism. All are moral values.
Since I use the term moral in an unfamiliar way, I also raised many hackles. I am clearly not talking about morals as traditional church attendance, family stability, sexual abstinence nor am I talking about monogamy in marriage.
I also made the mistake in one of the earlier blogs of suggesting that 'openness' is a biblical value. It is not. The relevant commandment is “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” That is a good translation of the Hebrew. It is only relevant in a judicial system. It says nothing about lying within a family or dishonesty in a commercial transaction. It dealt only with a judicial system not interpersonal relations.
The next blog discusses what I believe to be the current system of morality.