David C. Rose, Why Culture Matters Most
What leads to mass flourishing; sound institutions or a moral culture? In his book, David Rose not only suggests that culture matters most, but offers an explanation why. As a reader, I am left unconvinced both by the explanation and its premises.
Rose begins by introducing “the tragedy of the commons,” i.e., situations in which individual rationality undermines the common good. It is ultimately a coordination problem. In Rose’s theory, finding a way to resolve the tragedy of the commons is fundamental to the flourishing of societies. Culture matters most because culture influences the moral tastes that guide individuals in their decision-making and, therefore, how they relate to other stakeholders in society. Good culture enables good coordination and thus the tragedy can be avoided.
The central claim in the book is that “culture is the key to creating the high-trust societies that best support free market democracy and therefore best produce sustainable mass flourishing” (p. 2). I...
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