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By Joao Carlos Espada

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Additional info for Social Citizenship Rights: A Critique of F. A. Hayek and Raymond Plant

Example text

But this, in turn, is not due to the fact that, the market being 'an ethically neutral instrument', the discussion about the subject-matter of results and rewards becomes meaningless. On the contrary, this is due to the fact that, when we start discussing the normative value of such a system, including its results and rewards, we observe that it maximizes the chances of better results and rewards for all - even if the assignment of each reward to each person does not correspond to any ethical pattern of merit, desert, need, etc.

H. Wicksteed in a passage which is particularly clarifying: F. A. Hayek and Neo-liberalism: Discussion 39 It is idle to assume that ethically desirable results will neces- sarily be produced by an ethically indifferent instrument. 9 Hayek quotes this excerpt in order to illustrate his assertion that: 'it is a sign of the immaturity of our minds that we have not yet outgrown these primitive concepts and still demand from an impersonal process [ ... ' 10 The truth however is that the quotation referred to is by no means clear about the normative consequences of the fact that the market is 'an ethically indifferent instrument'.

One might say that, if a given system, like the market one, produces situations which we intuitively perceive to be unjust, and if that system does not allow us to correct them, or even discuss them, because there is nobody responsible for them, then one might say that the factor pre-eminently responsible for the allegedly unjust situations is the market itself. This system is then perceived as having to be altogether removed in order to allow the correction of unjust situations. In other words, if the market order is ethically neutral, a liberal society, if we want it to be ethically just, should get rid of the market system.

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