chapter  4
The ‘Principia Ethica of an Affluent Society
Pages 7

Sir Roy Harrod once wrote to me: ‘Now that we are growing richer —take the US, for example-we can afford to think of the use of leisure and what sweetens that use. It won’t be nice if people think of nothing but eating or driving cars about.’1 He anticipated the kind of self-criticism that Kenneth Galbraith was to hurl so refreshingly against his own economic society with its passions for big bank balances, split-level ranch houses, and fancy tail fins.2 Both Harrod’s above remark and Galbraith’s lament in turn are reminiscent of Keynes’s hopeful and exhortative criticism of ‘irreligious Capitalism’.3 I should like in this short essay to outline the ‘principa ethica’ (to borrow G. E. Moore’s expression for the philosophy of general conduct that had an abiding influence on Keynes)4 of an affluent society-in the light of Keynesian and post-Keynesian insights. Such an outline may be found useful in our increasingly important efforts to ‘reap spiritual fruits from our material conquests’.5