For some time there have been arguments in favour of the claim that “free markets” are necessary for a proper account of distributive justice. Traditionally the arguments have come from two quarters. On the one hand markets are recommended for reasons of efficiency. This fits into a utilitarian argument claiming that market economies best promote the greatest good when compared to the alternatives. On the other hand there is a libertarian argument claiming that only free markets are consistent with individual liberty. Neither of these arguments have been met with widespread support. However, Ronald Dworkin has offered an argument supporting markets that breaks new ground. He argues that market economies have the considerable virtue of treating people as “equals” with respect to their preferences for goods and careers. This fits well with his larger claim that social justice in economics and politics requires treating people as equals.
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