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Morale e mercato

Morals and the Market System

Anno XXV, n. 111, ottobre-dicembre 1990
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

Economic systems have to be classified according to the types and extent of the governmental coercion upon which they are founded: that is, the degree to which government is bound to the respect of individual freedom. The classification also regards economic efficiency. The market system is commonly criticised for encouraging selfishness, materialism, impersonalism and individualism and of being based thereupon. The author analyses such charges and denies them inasmuch as they are based on deficient knowledge of the functioning of the system itself. Another criticism of the system is that it produces unjustified incomes. The author again analyses and denies the charge. The market system may not be immoral as such but is it moral? The author proceeds to analyse the moral foundations of the system, moving from Eucken's Interdependence of the Social Orders to Hayek's investigation of the evolution of two kinds of moral – those of the smaller and larger groups. Both have an adequate function, small groups being based on the morals of solidarity and the idea of a just distribution of income, and the market system itself being based on the morals of contractual freedom, confidence in bargaining etc. It is impossible to impute the morals of the small group to the market system. Hoppmann's conclusion is that the market system is neither moral nor immoral, but that it does have moral foundations. It leaves scope for non-coerced individual decisions. Coercive economic systems, on the other hand, are immoral in that they are based on coercion of men by other men and that the moral sphere coincides with the sphere of individual freedom.