Front Page Titles (by Subject) Profits and Choice - Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1
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Profits and Choice - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Profits and Choice
“The Profit Motive.” Ethics (USA), 85 (1976): 312–322.
One cannot dismiss the private profit economic system as intrinsically “selfish and heartless” simply because it depends upon and engages interested motives. We would have to condemn eating, wage earning, and most human desires as “interested” along with profits. Nor can we condemn an economic system because it allows or encourages people to pursue their own interests in certain situations of zero sum conflict. For example, the rival candidates competing for some coveted job are not “selfish” just because all do not withdraw and defer to one another.
Three popular Aristotelian misconceptions lead towards the wrongheaded view that it is scandalous to make a profit: (1) Trade is in essence exploitation of one trader by another (it is rather a reciprocal relationship and necessarily voluntary); (2) Usury is unnatural (but since a sum of money is the substantial equivalent of the goods it might buy, there is nothing obnoxiously unnatural about receiving a return upon an investment in money); and (3) Production for profit is unjustified, production for use justified (the antithesis is false for there can be no profit in producing what no one wishes to buy, and presumably, to use).
Some people object to deriving income from any form of private ownership. But how could one defend the rejection of rent if one conceded any rights to private property at all? Others say that ownership of the means of production is essentially exploitative. But how could collective ownership by any groups less than the whole human race be appropriately justified?
That someone wants to make a profit or earn a wage tells us nothing ethically of what he wants the money for. “Mercenary interests” innocently translate into the objects and services individuals choose to purchase.
When reduced to its essence, the socialist objection does not criticize profits as such. Instead, it basically condemns private, individual choice rather than public collective decision making.