A philosopher's speech to the opening session of Les Rencontres had the audience wrappped in thought

Some philosophers, like Pythagoras, have founded their own school of thought. Some, like Diogenes, choose to live in a barrel. But few can grip an audience like André Comte-Sponville, whose speech to the opening session of Les Rencontres had his audience wrappped in thought.

What lessons in business philosophy were to be drawn from the crisis? It had, in his view, confirmed three things, Firstly, capitalism is not immoral or moral, but amoral, since it is a system, and operates objectively.

It is wrong, therefore to accuse the banks of immoral behaviour, since, as part of that system, they have no moral locus. But people are not objective and are driven by passion. The right-wing view that markets are self-regulating, is therefore misguided.

But, secondly, it is equally misguided to insist that morality exercises control over capitalism; that way leads to the kind of left-wing models, which history has shown not to work. Thirdly, therefore, it is only the law and politics that can keep capitalism within bounds.