What Can Money Really Buy? : Professors Debate on the Morality of the Marketplace

by The Cowl Editor on October 25, 2018


by Micaela Freeman ’20

Campus Ministry, Providence College School of Business, and the Center for Catholic and Dominican Studies hosted a sparked debate  on Thursday in the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies between two university professors. 

The debate, titled “There are some things that money should not buy,” brought in PC’s associate professor of philosophy Dr. Colin King and Georgetown University’s Dr. Jason Brennan.

The debate was centered around the idea of whether or not money can truly buy happiness. King and Brennan went head to head speaking about the value of life and how money can better it through a parliamentary style debate. Dr. King, who flew to Providence from Switzerland, argued that money should not be able to buy everything due to the fundamentals of ethics. 

Dr. King brought up points such as grades and voting fraud; money should not buy a vote, and should not buy an A despite the student’s work saying otherwise.

Dr. Brennan argued for the negative, and discussed that if there is somethingyou would not do for free, you should not be able to pay for it. If you would do something, however, people should have the option to pay for it.  Brennan also brought up points such as prostitution being bad, yet people pay for it; however, paying for a child was justified in the debate because of the establishment of adoption.

The event allowed students to see how debate skills can be applied to a professional debate and how specific skills, such as warranting arguments and weighing the importance of the argument, can help in everyday life.

Many of the members of Providence College Debate Society were very eager to listen in on a professional debate.

Noah DeRossi-Goldberg ’22, said the debate was both enjoyable as well as educational, “It was very philosophical. It was really good.”

As a political science major, DeRossi-Goldberg appreciated seeing the application of politics and how a debate works in the real world.

“It gave me great lessons on how to improve my debating skills,” DeRossi-Goldberg added.

Carly Martino 19 also attended the debate and enjoyed it as well. Martino is the acting co-president of the Debate Society and said she was thrilled to see fellow members in attendance.

Martino emphasized that she felt  she learned a lot, saying, “I found it really interesting, even if I got lost in the economics sometimes. But the questions that they broke down were extremely [enlightening].”

Martino said the entire debate was especially interesting, and she enjoyed the structure and the points of the debate.

“The most interesting part was the end when they took questions from the audience, and new points were brought up,” Martino said.

The event received praise, and many members of the audience and the debate team said they would love another professional style debate.