We recently had a panel discussion on the ethics of free markets at the Virginia Military Institute funded by the Charles Koch Foundation.
Professor Duncan Richter talked about the role of free markets in the context of positive and negative rights. He raises questions — given that free markets are clearly beneficial in providing goods and services efficiently — about how free markets can impact positive rights. His basic thesis is here: The Ethics of Free Markets.
Professor Michael Anderson talked about free markets from a Christian perspective — particularly the idea that Christians are stewards of God’s gifts. In that argument, free market efficiency ensures the best stewardship of God’s gifts. His basic thesis is here: Ethics of Free Markets_Anderson abstract.
Professor Wight explored Adam Smith’s view of free markets as expounded in the The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Professor Wight emphasized the role of trust as the predominant moral sentiment in the establishment of free markets as the most efficient form of economic activity. His thesis is available here: Ethics of Free Markets Wight Synopsis.
The view points expressed here begin to form a framework around which one can form a philosophy of individual behavior and the role and extent of government. It also suggests how human society can advance through productive means as opposed to predatory means — peace versus conflict. What do my respondents think? Comments welcome.