This essay is an attempt to construct a philosophically correct relationship between economics and ethics, by contrasting it with the philosophically wrong conventional wisdom, and based on objective notions of the common good social justice, and to draw some implications concerning the role of morality in the working of the political economy of the fiscal state and of the market in contemporary liberal capitalist and secularized societies. The basic claim identifies individual moral capacity in the individual's possession of moral values defined as principles giving an absolute meaning to human life, and identifies furthermore the only absolute meaning of human life compatible with the secular-scientific worldview, intrinsically devoid of any such meaning, in individual liberty-independence defined as the personal experience of selfconsciousness. The secularization of Western culture has displaced non-secular values without replacing them, making liberal capitalist societies into societies without values. The individual's awareness of individual liberty-independence as the only public moral value is a necessary condition for ensuring the safeguarding of this unique secular ethical principle in the working of the political economy and liberal political institutions of secularized societies. If this individual moral capacity is shared by too few people, or too weak, then no system of rules, and of management of government power and market forces, however perfect, will ever suffice for the purpose.
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