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Markets as Mere Means

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 April 2015


There has been a remarkable shift in the relationship between market and state responsibilities for public services like health care and education. While these services continue to be financed publicly, they are now often provided through the market. The main argument for this new institutional division of labor is economic: while (public) ends stay the same, (private) means are more efficient. Markets function as ‘mere means’ under the continued responsibility of the state. This article investigates and rejects currently existing egalitarian liberal theories about this division of labor and it presents and defends a new theory of marketization, in which social rights and democratic decision-making occupy center-stage.

© Cambridge University Press 2015 

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Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies, Utrecht University (email: The author thanks Robert Goodin and two reviewers of this journal for their helpful comments. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Institute für Sozialforschung in Frankfurt and at a workshop of the University of Louvain-la-Neuve; thanks are offered to Axel Honneth, Lisa Herzog, Axel Gosseries, Thomas Ferretti, and other participants at these occasions for their comments. Work on this article was funded by a VENI-Research Grant (The Political Theory of Market Regulation) from the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO).


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