Is it ethical to talk about money at the table or anywhere else?

This article is from the Monthly Science et Avenir – La Recherche n°902, April 2022.

The treatises on good manners agree: During lunch, we will avoid topics that offend, in particular religion, politics, and money. This prohibition is especially prevalent in France, an old Catholic and aristocratic country, where people despise the vanity of those who boast of their wealth. For this, the hardness of time and those who do not have it, makes him unhappy. So humility would dictate that money talk be reserved for the circle of intimates, and again. With the generalization of free, we all have access to the same services and we are friends at a lower cost; So money seems less discriminatory. How not to rejoice!

How can you resist the lure of a click for which you pay nothing?

However, behind this apparent erasure hide gruesome realities. Jaron Lanier, an American technologist, evokes the legend of mermaids, these mythical creatures, half women, half fish, who drew sailors with their song to the rocks, where they broke their ship to bite them. For free, that’s what it is: how to resist the allure of a click for which you pay nothing? In doing so we forget that our eyes become hostages to those who have seduced us. Furthermore, money cannot be reduced to mere remuneration or lack thereof: money plays a central role. Collective belief in the social building depends on it.

some baseless noise, movements of ideas that get carried away, and here a whole section of the world economy is shaking

Guaranteed first to a prince, then to a state, or sometimes to a supranational entity such as the European Union, it was an instrument of economic policy. However, today, with cryptocurrencies, everything changes: its value is based on the delicate balance between supply and demand. There’s some baseless noise, a flurry of thoughts that linger, and a whole section of the world economy is shaking here, without anyone being able to do anything about it. Consider that the monetary mass of bitcoin already corresponds to the Swiss franc! In short, money, it is appropriate to speak today, more than ever, and this urgent! It is a question of morality.

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Jean-Gabriel Ganassia, professor at the Sorbonne University in Paris, researcher in artificial intelligence at LIP6 (Sorbonne University, CNRS), former chair of the CNRS ethics committee. Last published work: “The Myth of the Fantastic. Should We Fear Artificial Intelligence?” Threshold, 2017.

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About the Author: Abbott Hopkins

Analyst. Amateur problem solver. Wannabe internet expert. Coffee geek. Tv guru. Award-winning communicator. Food nerd.

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