Productivity and Reason are Virtues

The “right thing” to do towards others depends on each individual’s context. If you consider giving to others a good, then being able to do that is dependent on a lot of conditions in your own life.

By virtue of being a productive and rational person in society, you are creating value for other people. But it’s not your goal. It’s not the butcher’s goal, for example, to serve you. His goal is to send his kids to college; his goal is to have a nice house to live in. But in trying to achieve those values for himself in a cooperative system of free exchange, he has to produce value.

I don’t consider charity to be a virtue. Or if it is, it’s a very minor one. Productivity and reason are virtues because we can’t exist without those, and virtues are the foundation of human life. Without particular virtues, human life would be impossible.

Charity is a wonderful impulse, and I think the benevolent impulse of anybody who’s not harassed and harangued and beaten down by his neighbour. Who is free. A charitable impulse is quite a big impulse. And that’s why I think Americans, in general, tend to be the most generous society on Earth. It’s no mistake because we’re one of the freest societies — or used to be — one of the freest societies on Earth, and that tends to make you charitable.

Source: Mark Pellegrino on the Spoiler Country Podcast (2020)