Morals and markets: Liberal democracy through Dewey and Hayek

Journal of Speculative Philosophy 23 (3):pp. 151-179 (2009)
One of the most vexing problems in contemporary liberal democratic theory and practice is the relation between ethics and economics. This article presents a way of bringing this relation into focus in the terms offered by two incredibly influential but too-often neglected twentieth-century political philosophers: John Dewey and Friedrich Hayek. I describe important points of contact between Dewey and Hayek that enable us to begin the project of reframing contemporary debates between ethical egalitarians and economic libertarians. Cautiously recognizing these commonalities whilst remaining attentive to persisting differences enables us to better approach the difficult relations between morals and markets. Specifically, I argue for a Deweyan combination of fair trade and free trade motivated by taking seriously a Hayekian caution about states. The result is a democratic theory that importantly refuses to attribute too much political efficacy to the quintessential liberal distinction between public and private.
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