Chiara Cordelli (The University of Chicago): "What’s Wrong with Capitalism?"

Sep 21, 2023, 12:00 pm1:20 pm
Laura Wooten Hall, Room 301 (Kerstetter Room)
Open to Princeton University ID Holders


Event Description

Program in Ethics and Public Affairs

ABSTRACT:  Political philosophy has recently witnessed a revival of critiques of capitalism. Some argue that capitalism is unjustly exploitative, at least to the extent that capitalist accumulation violates principles of distributive justice. The point of socialism is to eliminate unjust exploitation, by redressing distributive injustice. Others argue that the capitalist mode of production is inherently dominating, regardless of distributive conditions. The point of socialism is to achieve non-domination in the labor process, by means of workers’ ownership and control. The goal of this paper is to show that both critiques, whether plausible on their own terms, provide an insufficient account of the distinctive wrong of capitalism and, by implication, of the point of socialism. The wrong of capitalism is not merely interpersonal but also political. It consists in a violation of political self-determination, due to the infringement of one of its grounding values: nonalienation. The point of socialism is not just to end domination or unjust exploitation within production but to restore a nonalienated relation between citizens and their socio-political order. This demands not just workers’ control, but the politicization of investment decisions otherwise treated as purely economic, and the involvement of citizens in the conscious planning of the economy.

Chiara Cordelli is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. Beyond several articles, she is the author of The Privatized State (Princeton University Press, 2020), which was awarded the 2021 ECPR Political Theory Prize for best first book in political theory, and of Privatocrazia (Mondadori 2022), as well as the editor of NOMOS and the co-editor of Philanthropy in Democratic Societies (University of Chicago Press, 2016). Cordelli has held visiting positions at Stanford, Princeton, Harvard and at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales.