David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Business Ethics 85 (1):57 - 66 (2009)
Friedrich A. von Hayek influenced many areas of inquiry including economics, psychology and political theory. This article will offer one possible interpretation of the ethical foundation of Hayek’s political and social contributions to libertarianism and free market capitalism by analyzing several of his important non-economic publications, primarily The Road to Serfdom, The Fatal Conceit, The Constitution of Liberty and Law, Legislation and Liberty. While Hayek did not offer a particular ethical foundation for free market capitalism, he argued consistently that free markets are liberating and, for the markets to be truly free and for individuals to participate freely in markets, they should be subject to little control. Beyond some very basic principles, such as the protection of private property, that enable the free market to function properly, individuals are both free to and required to determine their own ethical compass. The central question, then, is what are the ethical principles that underlie Hayek’s view of the successful organization and operation of a free market? If formal rules and regulations must be kept to a minimum, then ethical behavior is an individual choice as well as an important foundation for the self-regulating free market. This article will argue that one possible ethical foundation underlying Hayek’s libertarian justification for free market capitalism are Friedrich Nietzsche’s “will to power” and noble/slave ethics. This article will rely primarily on Nietzsche’s On The Genealogy of Morals, Beyond Good and Evil, Zarathustra, and the Will to Power.
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