Elgar original reference
Edited by Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni
This time of crisis (much deeper and more serious than just a financial or economic crisis) calls us back to individual and collective responsibility, even of thought. One dimension of such an appeal to responsibility is the need today to reopen a new, true and profound debate about the nature of business, banks, profit, market and, therefore, of capitalism. The challenge is in being able to speak about these major aspects of civilization while freeing oneself from ideologies and overused words. Over the last 20 years, such ideologies and words have obstructed the reopening of a season of deep review and a highpoint of our economic system, for which people recognize a growing and urgent need. The main idea underlying the various contributions of this Handbook is the acknowledgment of the civilizing nature of market and firms when and if they are understood as expressions of civil virtues. Civil virtues in relation to markets mean in particular that what is typical of markets and firms is the dimension of reciprocity: the peculiar virtues in the economic domain are social by nature. There are of course also individual virtues (prudence, innovation, creativity . . . ), but the actual ‘golden rule’ of the market is reciprocity, because contracts, business, exchanges are matters of cooperation and of common advantage, i.e. forms, albeit different one from the other, of reciprocity.