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A European social model of state-market relations: the ethics of competition from a neo-liberal perspective

  • Wohlgemuth, Michael
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    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, neoliberalism, correctly understood, can be argued to be the one founding "European Social Model". However, beyond the realm of common, universalisable interests, competition amongst social-political models seems a preferable option for Europe.

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    Paper provided by Walter Eucken Institut e.V. in its series Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics with number 08/9.

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    Date of creation: 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:aluord:089
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    1. Alesina, Alberto F & Angeloni, Ignazio & Schuknecht, Ludger, 2002. "What Does the European Union Do?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3115, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Nils Goldschmidt & Michael Wohlgemuth, 2008. "Social Market Economy: origins, meanings and interpretations," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 261-276, September.
    3. Sen, Amartya, 1993. "Markets and Freedoms: Achievements and Limitations of the Market Mechanism in Promoting Individual Freedoms," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(4), pages 519-41, October.
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