Review of Alexander Douglas’ ‘The Philosophy of Debt’ [Book Review]

Ethical Perspectives 24:397-401 (2017)
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Recent financial events, especially the subprime and the sovereign debts crises, have revived debate on debts, the necessity of debt repayment and the eventuality of debt cancellations. A milestone in this debate was reached by David Graeber’s Debt (Brooklyn: Melville House, 2011), but despite the richness of this essay, many normative questions remain unanswered. Should debt always be repaid? Who should repay it? Should government deficits be allowed or even encouraged? Alexander Douglas’ recent book aims to provide an answer to all these questions. The main endeavour of the book lies in applied philosophy, that is in finding general principles able to answer such questions and to reconcile our possibly conflicting intuitions about debt and credit. However, the analysis is largely nourished by history, linguistics and economics, which makes the book highly original and multidisciplinary. The author’s general thesis is that
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