On the Superiority of Free Trade over Free Speech


Today, let’s delve into the philosophical and ethical perspectives of Confucius and Jesus on the right to free trade versus the freedom to lie, often associated with freedom of speech.

Confucius on Ethics and Trade

1. Confucian Principles:

  • Ethical Conduct: Confucius emphasized the importance of ethical behavior, righteousness, and maintaining harmony within society. His teachings advocate for integrity and honesty as foundational virtues (Analects 2.3).
  • Social Harmony: For Confucius, social harmony was paramount, and this was achieved through virtuous conduct, respect for others, and fulfilling one’s roles and responsibilities honestly and justly (Analects 12.11).

2. Right to Free Trade:

  • Economic Justice: Confucius valued fairness and justice in all human interactions, including economic activities. Free trade, conducted ethically, promotes mutual benefit and respects the autonomy and rights of individuals.
  • Mutual Benefit: The concept of free trade aligns with Confucian ideals of reciprocity and mutual benefit, fostering a just and harmonious society.

3. Freedom to Lie:

  • Disharmony and Deceit: Confucius would likely view lying as detrimental to social harmony and trust. Deception undermines ethical conduct and disrupts the moral fabric of society, leading to mistrust and conflict.

Jesus on Truth and Trade

1. Jesus’ Teachings:

  • Truth and Integrity: Jesus emphasized the importance of truthfulness and condemned deceit. In John 8:32, Jesus states, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” highlighting the value of truth in spiritual and social liberation.
  • Love and Respect: The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12), promotes ethical interactions based on love and respect.

2. Right to Free Trade:

  • Parables of Stewardship: Jesus often used parables related to trade and stewardship (e.g., the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30) to illustrate the responsible use of resources and the importance of industriousness and fair dealings.
  • Economic Justice: Fair and honest trade practices align with Jesus’ teachings on justice and care for one’s neighbor.

3. Freedom to Lie:

  • Condemnation of Falsehood: Jesus explicitly condemned lying and deceit. In Matthew 15:19, He lists false witness and deceit as evils that defile a person. Truthfulness is a core aspect of His moral teachings.

Comparative Importance

1. Free Trade:

  • Economic Foundation: Free trade is essential for economic development, individual autonomy, and social welfare. It allows for the fair exchange of goods and services, fostering innovation and improving living standards.
  • Moral Consistency: When conducted ethically, free trade respects the rights and dignity of all participants, aligning with the moral teachings of both Confucius and Jesus.

2. Freedom to Lie:

  • Moral and Social Harm: While freedom of speech is a fundamental right, the freedom to lie (deliberate deceit) is generally harmful. Lies can undermine trust, lead to injustice, and cause social and personal harm.
  • Ethical Boundaries: Ethical teachings from both Confucius and Jesus prioritize truth and integrity. The freedom to lie does not align with these ethical principles and is therefore less defensible than the right to free trade.


Both Confucius and Jesus place a high value on truth and ethical behavior. The right to free trade, when conducted ethically, is more aligned with their teachings on mutual benefit, justice, and social harmony than the freedom to lie. Lying, or the deliberate act of deceit, is universally condemned by these moral traditions as it undermines the very fabric of trust and integrity necessary for a harmonious society. Therefore, the right to free trade is considered more important and beneficial to society than the freedom to lie.


  1. Confucius’ Analects: Analects of Confucius
  2. Bible (New Testament): Bible Gateway
  3. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Confucius: SEP Confucius