The Morality of the Market Process and the Normative Implications of Catallactic Competition

Do markets make the conditions for moral action possible? To answer to this question, I will develop the normative implications of competition in the market process. As a value-free science, positive economics illustrates the economic consequences of different forms of competitive behavior for resource allocation and income distribution. In this paper, I explore the normative implications of competition under alternative institutional arrangements. I distinguish between catallactic competition, based upon an individual’s willingness and ability to pay for resources generated through trade and productive specialization, and non-catallactic competition, based upon legal status and privilege generated through political exchange. I argue that the normative implications of substituting market, or catallactic, competition for non-market, or non-catallactic, competition is to provide the conditions for human flourishing. Whereas catallactic competition tends to liberate the individual from arbitrary assignments of resources and income based on creed, gender, race, or legal status, non-catallactic competition tends to confine an individual’s potential for self-actualization to such arbitrary assignments.



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