Volume 14, 1998
Other Applied Ethics
William W. Clohesy
Untimely Thoughts on the Public Market
The marketplace as an institution enjoys widespread popularity today. Many economists hold that most of society’s problems could be best solved by applying the market mechanism to them. Government, by contrast, is widely considered to be a problem rather than a solution. Some would like to see the government restructured along market lines so that policies would follow voter choice, as products follow that of consumers. Some, myself included, believe that a world in which all relationships are rendered matters of private choice would lack the "public happiness" that comes from participation in public discourse and concerted action. In this paper I address what it would mean for the market to be truly public. A market that is truly public will discourage speculative investment so that managers of various firms can concentrate on the long term good of creating a social institution through which the concerted efforts of various stakeholders are coordinated. In this way, stakeholders can enrich the world through their work.