Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

5/1/2010 - 9/30/2010

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Frugality: A Philosophical Study

FAIN: FT-58183-10

Emrys Westacott
Alfred University (Alfred, NY 14802-1205)

My project is a book-length philosophical examination of the concept of frugality, understood here to mean the virtue of living simply with few needs or expenses. Questions posed include: Why has frugality traditionally been considered a virtue? Should it still be regarded as a virtue today? Why is extravagance commonly seen as a vice? Is this view reasonable? Is there a connection between frugality and happiness? Is there a connection between frugality and wisdom. The book will draw from a venerable philosophical and literary tradition and connect up with contemporary research in the social sciences.

Associated Products

The Wisdom of Frugality: Why less is more–more or less (Book)
Title: The Wisdom of Frugality: Why less is more–more or less
Author: Emrys Westacott
Abstract: From Socrates to Thoreau, most philosophers, moralists, and religious leaders have seen frugality as a virtue and have associated simple living with wisdom, integrity, and happiness. But why? And are they right? Is a taste for luxury fundamentally misguided? If one has the means to be a spendthrift, is it foolish or reprehensible to be extravagant? In this book, Emrys Westacott examines why, for more than two millennia, so many philosophers and people with a reputation for wisdom have been advocating frugality and simple living as the key to the good life. He also looks at why most people have ignored them, but argues that, in a world facing environmental crisis, it may finally be time to listen to the advocates of a simpler way of life. The Wisdom of Frugality explores what simplicity means, why it’s supposed to make us better and happier, and why, despite its benefits, it has always been such a hard sell. The book looks not only at the arguments in favor of living frugally and simply, but also at the case that can be made for luxury and extravagance, including the idea that modern economies require lots of getting and spending. A philosophically informed reflection rather than a polemic, The Wisdom of Frugality ultimately argues that we will be better off—as individuals and as a society—if we move away from the materialistic individualism that currently rules.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Princeton University Press website
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9781400883301
Copy sent to NEH?: No