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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 16, 2000

Race, Social Identity, and Human Dignity

Alistair Macleod
Pages 113-123

Human Dignity, Individual Liberty, And the Free Market Ideal

Taking for granted that there is a strong connection between respect far human dignity and endorsement of institutional arrangements that protect individual liberty, I ask whether this can be cited in support of a free market approach to the organization of the economy. The answer, it might seem, must be Yes. Prominent defenders of a free market system commonly assume that an important part of the rationale for the free market is that it protects individual liberty. Appearances are misleading, however. The free market ideal is not a mere corollary in the economic domain of the ideal of individual liberty. It stands, rather, at some distance from it, in both content and rationale. Indeed, conflict between these ideals in certain contexts can not be ruled out. The possibility has to be reckoned with, consequently, that an unqualified commitment to the free market system is not consistent with respect for human dignity.

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