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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 14, 1988/1989

Joan McGregor
Pages 23-50

Bargaining Advantages and Coercion in the Market

Does the “free market” foster more freedom for individuals generally and less coercion? Libertarians and other market advocates argue that the unfettered market maximizes freedom and hence has less coercion than any feasible alternative. Welfare liberals, Socialist, and Marxists, in different ways, argue against the claim that the unrestricted market maximizes freedom generally. Both supporters and critics agree that coercion undermines freedom and that that is what is ultimately prima facie wrong with it. Further, they agree that the extent to which an economic system includes coercion provides a serious strike against it. The problem is that there is little consensus on the necessary conditions for coercion. In this paper I will be concerned with the nature of coercive relationships in the market. Market interactions have a particular character and occur within a specific institutional framework. Other accounts of coercion have failed to capture the unique character of coercion in the market because they have failed to take into account certain nontrivial facts about the market which are essential to the analysis of coercive market relations.

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