The Monist 78 (3):258-275 (1995)

Socialists and liberals have engaged in a long standing debate in political philosophy about the desirability of markets. Those debates have focused on a series of questions about the market: the kind of moral character it fosters, its tendency to enhance or diminish human welfare, the distribution of goods it promotes, its relationship to political democracy and freedom, its compatibility with socialist goals, and so on. Recently, the very possibility of this debate has been questioned. The whole tradition of argument about the market is rejected on the grounds that it assumes an “essentialist” view of the market. Both defenders of the market and its traditional socialist critics assume that it is possible to talk of “the market.” They assume that different markets share some essential nature such that one can engage in a general discussion of the relation of the market to moral character, welfare, justice, freedom, democracy and so on. However, the argument goes, that essentialist assumption should be rejected. The standard arguments between defenders and critics of the market rest on a mistake.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind  Philosophy of Science
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI 10.5840/monist199578314
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