Markets, Community, and Pluralism

THE PHILOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY 64. 254 (2014); 144-151

Abstract: In Why Not Socialism?, G. A. Cohen presents a provocative and thoroughgoing rejection of markets, insisting that market competition and market-based inequalities as such undermine conditions of community. According to Cohen, markets rest on base motives and naturally engender community-undermining inequalities. This paper critically assesses Cohen’s community-based objection to markets. It shows that his objection presupposes a conception of community that is antithetical to pluralism and it argues that his characterisation of the motives of market participants is too simple. A more appropriate conception centers on pro-social norms and trust — social features empirically encouraged by markets.