Advertisement

Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 71–78 | Cite as

Can the Beast be Tamed?: Reflections on John McMurtry's Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market as an Ethical System

  • Bernard J. Hodgson
Article

Abstract

My paper responds to certain themes of Professor John McMurtry's recent book, Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market as an Ethical System. Although I am in general sympathy with McMurtry's penetrating critique of conventional market theory and practice, I find Unequal Freedoms ambivalent on the critical question of whether endorsing and enacting the life-value code McMurtry proposes would require only a mitigation of the principles and definitive activities of the competitive market system or whether significant reforms within the system would have to be deep structural ones. It is argued that the second alternative is inescapable. I defend my perspective from the point of view of a philosophical analysis of orthodox or neo-classical theory-construction about the competitive market order. In particular, I examine three fundamental principles of such modelling: the maximization of the satisfaction of self-interest, the unboundedness of consumer desire for material goods, and the distribution of monetized wealth. In order for McMurtry's "civil commons" to survive, the practice of each of these principles would need to be radically modified. However, in doing so, competitive capitalism would lose its essential identity as a socio-economic order.

Keywords

Defend Competitive Market Tame Recent Book Philosophical Analysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Arrow, K. J.: 1983, General Equilibrium: Collected Papers, Vol. 2 (Harvard University Press, Cambridge).Google Scholar
  2. Arrow, K. J. and F. H. Hahn: 1971, General Competitive Analysis (Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh).Google Scholar
  3. Baudrillard, J.: 1981, For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, trans. by C. Levin (Telos Press, St. Louis).Google Scholar
  4. Bentham, J.: 1970, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789) (University of London Press, London).Google Scholar
  5. Boadway, R. and N. Bruce: 1984, Welfare Economics (Basil Blackwell, Oxford).Google Scholar
  6. Epictetus: 1910, Moral Discourses and Fragments (Dent, London).Google Scholar
  7. Gauthier, D.: 1986, Morals by Agreement (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  8. Hayek, F. A. von: 1948, Individualism and Economic Order (University of Chicago Press, Chicago).Google Scholar
  9. Koopmans, T.: 1957, Three Essays on the State of Economic Science (McGraw-Hill, New York).Google Scholar
  10. McMurtry, J.: 1998, Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market as an Ethical System (Garamond, Toronto).Google Scholar
  11. Sen, A. K.: 1987, On Ethics and Economics (Basil Blackwell, Oxford).Google Scholar
  12. Smith, Adam: 1909, An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) (P. F. Collier and Son, New York).Google Scholar
  13. Winch, D. M.: 1971, Analytical Welfare Economics (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard J. Hodgson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyTrent UniversityOntarioCanada

Personalised recommendations