The Philosophy and Economics of Market Socialism: A Critical Study

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N. Scott Arnold argues that the most defensible version of a market socialist economic system would be unable to realize widely held socialist ideals and values. In particular, it would be responsible for widespread and systematic exploitation. The charge of exploitation, which is really a charge of injustice, has typically been made against capitalist systems by socialists. This book argues that it is market socialism-the only remaining viable form of socialism-that is systematically exploitative. Recent work on the economics of contracts and organizations is used to show that the characteristic organizations of a free enterprise system, the classical capitalist firm and the modern corporation, are structured in such a way that opportunities for exploitation among economic actors (e.g., managers, workers, providers of capital, customers) are minimized. By contrast, Arnold argues, in a market socialist regime of worker cooperatives, opportunities for exploitation would abound. Arnold locates his comparative analysis of market socialism and the free enterprise system in the larger context of the capitalism/socialism debate. In his account of this debate, he offers a distinctive and compelling vision of the relationship between the social sciences and political philosophy.