Existential Scarcity

A Philosophy of Finance Lecture

Debt & Ideals of ‘Natural Reproduction

Date & Time

Fri, March 22, 2019
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM


Huntsman Hall 340

University of Pennsylvania


The Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture presented a special Philosophy of Finance lecture featuring Professor Devin Singh, Assistant Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College, on March 22, 2019.

The lecture explored how understandings of debt and interest are bound up with assumptions about what counts as reproduction, and how both interest and reproduction reflect anxieties about the scarcity of life and resources. Drawing on alternative labor theories, Professor Singh examined what it means to say that money works to produce more of itself, and whether recent anti-work interventions offer productive insights for reining in the proliferation of debt. Ultimately, a reconsideration of the centrality of productive labor to human identity may provide resources for challenging the centrality of productive, debt-based finance to our economic imaginations.

Professor Singh’s keynote was followed by responses from Prof. Andrew Lamas, Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. John Buchmann of the Collegium Institute, moderated by Dr. Isabel Perera, Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

This event was co-sponsored by the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society (PRRUCS), the department of Religious Studies, the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, the Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) department, and the Urban Studies Program.