In a glimpse this might seem an absurd question because almost anyone anywhere in this world, trades, but,

Where there philosophers who claimed that trading is immoral?

Who claimed that the very act of buying something and selling it 2 times more in price, or 5 times more in price or 10 times more in price, is immoral and hurts well beingness (as well as economy) in the long run?

  • Money Free Economy (anti-money) approach might be a candidate
  • Interest Free Economy (anti-interest) approach might be a candidate
  • Anarcho Primitivism approach might be a candidate
  • Marxism approach might be a candidate
  • Steady State Economy approach might be a candidate
  • Non of these approaches clearly aims to abolish trade altogether, just current major aspects of it (money, interest, agriculture, private-businesses, customer shortage/surplus --- respectively)
  • First, trading need not involve money, there is barter, so 2 times or 5 times does not always make sense. And second, there is a big difference between trading as such (which is a necessity in some form because one typically cannot provide everything they need for themselves directly) and profiteering (pricing disproportionate to costs), which is routinely characterized as "unfair". Some such practices are even illegal, see Kelleher, Profiteering as a Legal and Moral Problem.
    – Conifold
    Oct 25, 2021 at 9:00

2 Answers 2


David Graeber makes the case in Debt:The First 5,000 Years that the archaeological record shows the real basis of money is reciprocal social obligations (ie, not barter). When there is a run on a bank, the real basis of currency, trust in the system, is exposed.

Usury, charging interest was prohibited in the bible for reasons Graeber goes into. Jesus overturning the tables of the moneylenders was about this, coins without pagan symbols were required to buy temple goods, and interest had started being charged on the exchange to temple coins. The Venicians and other banking families helped end the prohibition in Christendom, by making acceptance of usury necessary to win wars. In Islam it is still actively forbidden, and there is an Islamic finance sector which allows mortgages and so on that meet Quaranic rules.

It is notable that systems of tribute predate & were far more widespread in the ancient world, than trade in the modern sense. When one party holds a monopoly on force & there is no separation of powers or other authority to appeal to, trade looks different.

Graeber gave a great Talk On Indigenous Peoples, outlining that the state Rousseau thought as the default of being 'noble savages' is really a highly adaptive and maintained system of sustaining equality, which in the absence of rapid technological change avoids large scale warfare and slavery, providing net benefits to communities, and stability. At the cost of needing to keep populations stable, either by being in a hostile environment, being able to spread into empty places, or ritualised warfare and/or human sacrifice. This included different notions of property & ownership.

Economists Wilkinson & Pickett in The Spirit Level & The Inner Level, identify a range of harms and social costs to inequality.

Marx's communism explicitly aimed at ending property & money, through shared ownership. In practice, this involved a centralised power having the final say over everything, very like a tribute system.


I'm sure this answer is going to be unpopular. I'm saying it because I think it's the right answer.

I will not entertain any retorts that do not have logic behind them. However I am always interested in learning something new. That is to say....anything that makes sense. And I am open-minded. So feel free.

Sounds to me like you Are speaking of socialism. And if that's the case then...yes of course I'm sure many philosophers vying for a particular outcome would say such things. It comes down to do you think one is making more money than they should be, do they have a right to make more than another based on their choices and if so then should one give some of the back. It matters not what you put into it to make that extra amount or the time and skills you've invested to see potential to turn a higher profit for the years you've been doing it. As for bartering itself I believe if that both parties agreed to the outcome that they have both wanted there's no reason to interfere if later there is buyer's remorse and they will grow as a human being. Of course I'm not talking about completely taking advantage of another. After all if you leave all the decision making to the competing party they have already done much more work than you have simply by knowing its value. Another is not willing to put in the same effort as the other party then why should they have the same reward. And of course I am speaking of competent people. There are philosophers of all type even ones who are socialists....

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