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The Free Market Existentialist: Capitalism without Consumerism

ISBN: 978-1-119-12128-2
216 pages
November 2015
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Incisive and engaging, The Free Market Existentialist proposes a new philosophy that is a synthesis of existentialism, amoralism, and libertarianism.

  • Argues that Sartre’s existentialism fits better with capitalism than with Marxism
  • Serves as a rallying cry for a new alternative, a minimal state funded by an equal tax
  • Confronts the “final delusion” of metaphysical morality, and proposes that we have nothing to fear from an amoral world
  • Begins an essential conversation for the 21st century for students, scholars, and armchair philosophers alike with clear, accessible discussions of a range of topics across philosophy including atheism, evolutionary theory, and ethics
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Philosophies of Individualism 1

1 “Out, out, Brief Candle!”: What Do You Mean by Existentialism? 10

2 Like Cigarettes and Existentialism: Why There Is no Necessary Connection between Marxism and Sartre 33

3 To Consume or not to Consume?: How Existentialism Helps Capitalism 62

4 Why Nothing IsWrong: Moral Anti-realism 89

5 Not Going to Hell in a Handbasket: Existentialism and a World without Morality 112

6 What’s Mine Is Mine: Moral Anti-realism and Property Rights 132

7 Who’s Afraid of the Free Market?: Moral Anti-realism and the Minimal State 153

Conclusion: Not Your Father’s Existentialism 179

Select Bibliography 181

Index 193

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Author Information

William Irwin is Herve A. LeBlanc Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Philosophy at King’s College in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Intentionalist Interpretation and scholarly articles on Sartre, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Irwin originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books with Seinfeld and Philosophy in 1999 and is currently the General Editor of The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series.

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“William Irwin has transcended ideology and tribalism to unite a set of ideas that, for the first time, could end the rancor between the Left and the Right by reminding each of their shared values. This book will change the thinking of everyone interested in politics, economics, or religion—a game changing work.” —Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, Presidential Fellow Chapman University, author of The Moral Arc.

“Irwin offers a defense of free market existentialism that is very readable and refreshingly humble.” —Joel Marks, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of New Haven, author of Ethics without Morals: In Defence of Amorality and Bad Faith: A Philosophical Memoir

“This is a first-rate book; gutsy and charmingly written, with a genuinely exciting central argument. Amoral-atheist-existentialist-capitalism is compelling and ahead of its time. Irwin has crystallized our forbidden thoughts, articulating them in an accessible way, showing why we should no longer keep quiet about them.” —Sharon M. Kaye, John Carroll University, author of Philosophy: A Complete Introduction

“William Irwin skillfully rescues existentialism from the specter of collectivism, with which it never sat easily.” —Mark D. White, chair of the Department of Philosophy, College of Staten Island/CUNY, and author of Kantian Ethics and Economics: Autonomy, Dignity, and Character
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