Growing Pains: An Argumentative Analysis on the Desirability of Economic Growth
AbstractIn 2012 the German Bundestag convened an inquiry committee tasked with investigating the role of economic growth in society. While the opposition parties presented a rather critical outlook on the phenomenon, the overall tone of the coalition, consisting of Christian Democrats (CDU) and Liberals (FDP), portraits a rather positive image of economic growth. Representatives of the coalition argue that economic growth is inherently tied to freedom and, by extension, to the principles of a free democratic society. This reasoning, called the ‚Free-Society Argument‘ makes a case for the intrinsic value of growth. It is reconstructed and analyzed using the method of Analytical Discourse Evaluation. The underlying premises of the argument are in line with Robert Nozick‘s entitlement theory of justice, as well as the principle of negative freedom and can be defeated on the bases of critiques of these philosophical positions. Moreover, the argument is built upon on a specific (neoliberal) interpretation of economic growth. This weakens the quality of the argument, since it undermines the complexity of the phenomenon and excludes important elements of growth from the reasoning.
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