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A European Social Model of State-Market Relations - The Ethics of Competition from a 'Neo-liberal' Perspective

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  • Michael Wohlgemuth

Abstract

In this paper I portray 'neo-liberalism' in its original conceptual meaning as opposed to the generic term of depreciation as which it is commonly used. I identify fair competition and the denial of all privilege as the major concerns of original neo-liberals. Ethical merit for competition might, at first sight, be based on only two principles: individual natural rights (equal liberty) and socially desirable outcomes ('unintended altruism'). It was the neo-liberal idea to put fairness-norms or universally applicable rules of just behaviour between an unqualified 'input-based' ethics and an unqualified 'output-based' ethical consequentialism. The enforcement of such rules is a major obligation of the state. Today, the European Union assumes the role of “guardian” of competition. In a certain, but limited sense, neo-liberalism, correctly understood, can be argued to be the one founding 'European Social Model'. However, beyond the realm of core of common, universalisable interests, competition amongst social-political models seems a preferable option for Europe.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Wohlgemuth, 2008. "A European Social Model of State-Market Relations - The Ethics of Competition from a 'Neo-liberal' Perspective," Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik - Journal for Business, Economics & Ethics, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 9(1), pages 69-87.
  • Handle: RePEc:rai:ethics:doi_10.1688/1862-0043_zfwu_2008_01_wohlgemuth
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    Keywords

    Neo-liberalism; Ordo-liberalism; European Social Models; Ethics of Competition;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • M20 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Economics - - - General
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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