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Altruism, Self-Interest, and the Morality of the Private Sector: An Austrian Approach

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Abstract

Many scholars—including some otherwise sympathetic to the market—consider altruism and the market to be fundamentally incompatible. A key insight of Austrian economics, however, is that altruistic ends can be best served by utilizing the price signals generated by the market: Market prices offer the most effective means of learning about the needs, values, and preferences of people of whom we have no direct personal knowledge and of ensuring that the benefits of our actions exceed the costs. An appreciation of this insight leads to the conclusion that the private sector is an institutional setting in which altruistic ends can be efficaciously pursued. Two principal objections to this thesis are considered and rejected.

John Meadowcroft, "Altruism, Self-Interest, and the Morality of the Private Sector: An Austrian Approach," Journal of Markets & Morality 10, no. 2 (Fall 2007): 357-373


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