In a riveting scene from the film “Wall Street,” Gordon Gekko proclaims that “greed is good.” The great philosopher David Hume, on the other hand, describes greed as the most destructive of the vices. The recent banking debacle and continuing uproar about executive bonus pay has placed the controversial issue of greed at the very heart of how we view modern society. Is Gekko’s maxim simply in need of some moderation? Or is Hume’s view too extreme? In “Greed,” Stewart Sutherland examines these conflicting notions and discusses how we might approach the problem of greed today. He looks at the concept of incentives, which are essential for achieving results, and whether the desire for money is really as dangerous as it might seem. Powerful and timely, “Greed” is a much-needed look at an attitude that, for better or worse, is an unavoidable driving force in modern society.
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