We Must Always Pursue Economic Growth

Originally published in Utilitas

Why pursue economic growth? For poor countries this is an easy question to answer, but it is more difficult for rich ones. Some of the world's greatest philosophers and economists – such as John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes, and John Rawls – thought that, once a certain material standard of well-being has been achieved, economic growth should stop. I argue the opposite in this article. We always have reason to pursue economic growth. My argument is indirect. I shall not argue that economic growth itself is always better. Rather, I shall argue that stopping growth requires morally objectionable actions. Economic growth tends to occur naturally if certain underlying conditions are in place. We have moral reasons to insist on these conditions independent their effect on growth, however. Halting growth requires that we alter these conditions, but we ought not do this.

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