The Philosophy and Economics of Market Socialism

The Philosophy and Economics of Market Socialism : A Critical Study

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N. Scott Arnold argues that the most defensible version of a market socialist economic system would be unable to realize widely held socialist ideals and values. In particular, it would be responsible for widespread and systematic exploitation. The charge of exploitation, which is really a charge of injustice, has typically been made against capitalist systems by socialists. This book argues that it is market socialism-the only remaining viable form of socialism-that is systematically exploitative. Recent work on the economics of contracts and organizations is used to show that the characteristic organizations of a free enterprise system, the classical capitalist firm and the modern corporation, are structured in such a way that opportunities for exploitation among economic actors (e.g., managers, workers, providers of capital, customers) are minimized. By contrast, Arnold argues, in a market socialist regime of worker cooperatives, opportunities for exploitation would abound. Arnold locates his comparative analysis of market socialism and the free enterprise system in the larger context of the capitalism/socialism debate. In his account of this debate, he offers a distinctive and compelling vision of the relationship between the social sciences and political philosophy.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 138.7 x 166.1 x 14mm | 641.97g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195088271
  • 9780195088274

Review quote

N. Scott Arnold's outstanding book makes a vital contribution to the debate over socialism; ...Arnold's discussion is a first-rate achievement. He has provided the best and most carefully worked out account of market socialism that I have read. His book is a model of how philosophers can use economic theory in their work-and in this department there can be no doubt of Arnold's efficiency. * The Mises Review *show more

Back cover copy

In this closely reasoned examination of the case for market socialism, N. Scott Arnold argues that even the most defensible version of market socialism would be deeply flawed. Specifically, it would be responsible for systematic and widespread exploitation. The charge of exploitation, which is really a charge of injustice, has typically been made against capitalist systems by socialists. This book argues that it is actually market socialism - the only remaining viable form of socialism - that is systematically exploitative. Recent work on the economics of contracts and organizations is used to show that the characteristic organizations of a free enterprise system - the classical capitalist firm and the modern corporation - are structured in such a way that opportunities for exploitation among economic actors (e.g., managers, workers, providers of capital, customers) are minimized. By contrast, Arnold argues, in a market socialist regime of worker cooperatives, opportunities for exploitation abound. Arnold locates his comparative analysis of market socialism and the free enterprise system in the larger context of the capitalism/socialism debate. In his account of this debate - and in his contribution to it - he offers a distinctive and attractive vision of the relationship between economics and political philosophy. This vision clearly identifies the respective contributions that economics and political philosophy can make to the fundamental question of how social institutions are to be evaluated.show more

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