Acton Institute Powerblog

Defending the bourgeois virtues

In this week’s Acton Commentary, “The middle class in an age of inequality,” I wonder who will defend the bourgeois virtues, if anyone will “speak out in praise of mediocrity, stability, and predictability.”

Deirdre McCloskey has spent a great deal of time exploring and extolling the bourgeois virtues. Over the last decade she’s composed a lengthy trilogy of volumes dedicated to these issues: The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (2006); Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World (2010); and Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World (2016).

The most recent issue of Faith & Economics has a symposium focused on Bourgeois Equality. The latest issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality also includes a review of this volume (Bourgois Virtues was also previously reviewed in JMM).

Check out McCloskey’s page on “The Bourgeois Era” for these and other resources related to understanding and defending the bourgeois virtues.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.