Will Saint Thomas Aquinas Drink Perrier? Scholastic Philosophy of Man, Challenging the Consumerist-Cost View

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Will Saint Thomas Aquinas Drink Perrier? Scholastic Philosophy of Man, Challenging the Consumerist-Cost View
  1 Will Saint Tomas Aquinas Drink Perrier? Reaction To Scholastic Philosophy of Man, Challenging the Consumerist-Cost View. 1  by Martin R. Gaerlan As a graduate of Manila’s Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, I confess a lack of intellectual and emotional attachment to Scholastic philosophy and theology. 1  Of course, I could forever blame this lost love to one of my college philosophy professors who, probably in exasperation over my impertinent questions, remarked that all my questions have been answered by the Dominican Doctor of the Church and that I should just go and read the Summa Theologica . Well, I never did. Thus, being asked to react to Mr. Denver Dara dar’s paper amounts to reunion of some sorts with this ghost from my academic past. Now remind me again, how many volumes are there in the Summa ? Daradar’s paper challenges us to examine our lives as consumers and asked why we would buy an Evian or a Perrier if we just wanted to drink water. In addition, we are asked why anyone would want to get his/her hands wet by going to the business of bottling water and selling it for a profit (dare we say huge profit?) when water should be available as a duty for the common good. Finally, even if we get into the water business, Daradar asks why we should be seducing people to buy bottle water instead of educating people to drink tap water instead. In the case of Perrier, global sales of the green bottle reached one billion in 2013 (not bad for the company’s 150th foundation anniversary year) compared with only 20 million bott les in 1948. 2 i Perrier’s latest adve rtising campaign invites the thir sty consumer in us to a “secret place” where 1  Reaction Paper delivered during the public lecture of Mr. Denver Daradar, Scholastic View on Human Nature as Applied to Business, Tereso Lara Seminar Room, LS Hall, DLSU Manila, Feb 18, 2014. Image 1 . Perrier’s Advertising Campaign, How Many Lives Will You Live? Invites the Consumer To Drink The Precious Water in a Secret Place Where One’s Secret Desires Will B e Fulfilled. Image Source: Adweek  2 water makes people do crazy things (see Image 1). 3   Would Saint Thomas Aquinas accept Perrier’s invitation to enter this secret place, drink of the bottle water, and speak and do crazy things? Apparently not, as Perrier’s management team will cease producing and selling their bottled water if they were to follow Darader’s thesis that water is a “basic need that must be satisfied” thus why should water be “offered at a profit, when by the shared nature of human beings, water availability is a duty of all?” I can now hea r Louis-Eugène Perrier   protest that his precious water is not just any ordinary water. In fact, it is natural mineral water from th ermal springs recognized by France’s “ Medecine academy  ” as the only type of water that boasts the health -giving properties. 4  In his recommendations to businesses who will adopt the Scholastic/Catholic view of the human person, Darader challenges management to recalibrate their products, especially those that are “fundamentally shared as a real necessity” to be made more “accessible and affordable to the common people” and “not at a premium.” In the case of Perrier’s water, it is estimated that this natural mineral water is priced three times more than wine. Clearly, water sold at a premium price. In the language of the United Nations General Assembly (2010), water is a human right and thus should be affordable (aside from being sufficient, safe, acceptable, accessible). 5 iv The UN states that water costs “should not exceed 3 per cent of household income” thus making Perrier’s natural mineral water clearly out of the reach by the overwhelming vast majority of people in the world. According to Scholastic teaching, is Perrier an unjust business enterprise on the basis of product pricing? We end, as we began, with Saint Thomas Aquinas. Laurence M. Vance, in his Lou Church Memorial Lecture in Religion and Economics at the 2008 Austrian Scholars Conference at the Mises Institute, noted that Aquinas “maintained the necessity of just price in all transactions.” 6  He summarized Aquinas’ teaching as follows:   “ The merchant performs a valuable service The merchant can conduct business without sinning Buying and selling are to the advantage of both parties Misrepresenting the condition of goods in a sale is fraud Price is influenced by changes in supply and demand Price can vary according to location Price can vary according to time Price is a function of utility The just price is an estimate, and cannot be fixed with mathematical precision The just price is the current market price Price should represent the true value of goods ”    3 I invite my colleague, Denver Daradar, to join me over a bottle of Perrier, and continue this mouth- watering discussion about this “secret” Scholastic teaching about just pricing.  Mrg/Feb 18, 2014 Notes: 1  The author graduated with a degree of B.S. Education Major in School Guidance and Character Education, 1981 2  Glancey, Jonathan, Independent, April 1, 1994. Still waters run deeper: The Perrier predicament: salewise it has lost its fizz; designwise it has slightly lost its bottle. Can it burst back  ? Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/still-waters-run-deeper-the-perrier-predicament-salewise-it-has-lost-its-fizz-designwise-it-has-slightly-lost-its-bottle-can-it-burst-back-jonathan-glancey-reports-1367177.html  3  Beltron, Gabriel. Perrier Invites You to a 'Secret Place' Where Sparkling Water Makes People Get Crazy  , Adweek, April 2, 2013. http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/perrier-invites-you-secret-place-where-sparkling-water-makes-people-get-crazy-148352  4  The Perrier official websites presents a timeline on the historical events leading to the establishment and growth of the company. See http://www.perrier.com/en/discoverperrier.html  5  United Nations, Global Issues, Water. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/globalissues/water/  6  Vance, Laurence M, The Myth of the Just Price, Mises Daily, Ludwig Von Mises Institute, March 31, 2008. Retrieved from http://mises.org/daily/2918 
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