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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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  • Wohlgemuth, Michael

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, 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Wohlgemuth, Michael, 2008. "A European social model of state-market relations: the ethics of competition from a neo-liberal perspective," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 08/9, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:aluord:089
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 519-541, October.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Ignazio Angeloni & Ludger Schuknecht, 2005. "What does the European Union do?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 275-319, June.
    3. Nils Goldschmidt & Michael Wohlgemuth, 2008. "Social Market Economy: origins, meanings and interpretations," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 261-276, September.
    4. repec:mhr:untord:urn:isbn:9783161482977 is not listed on IDEAS
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