In this month’s Prospect podcast (also available on the right of this page), our resident philosopher Nigel Warburton examines the ambiguous role of thrift in defining the good life. As Warburton argues, the idea of thrift “hangs awkwardly between profligacy and miserliness,” making it one of the few virtues best practiced in moderation.
Distinguishing an appropriate levels of thrift is something our society still struggles with. In our handling of the environment and use of natural resources, we have surely been guilty of profligacy. At the same time, our treatment of the most vulnerable is often miserly in the extreme.
As we attempt to recover from an era of economic extravagance, is an instinct for thrift something we now need to cultivate? Or is it already too late: is our only hope now to spend our way out of recession?