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The Invention of Market Freedom by Eric…

The Invention of Market Freedom

by Eric MacGilvray

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I was expecting something completely different from this book based on the product reviews and descriptions I read before buying it. I thought it would discuss the rise of market freedom from an (at least partly) historical vantage point, or from the perspective of social or political theory. But the author does not discuss a single historical event, and offers no general ideas about the nature of market society. Instead he has restricted himself to merely reading classic works in political theory; Aristotle, Aquinas, Cicero, Locke, Hobbes, Hume, Mill, Rousseau, Hayek, and giving his own interpretation of how the concept of "freedom" evolved in their writings.

He certainly manages this task with great expertise, and academics who specialize in tracing various -isms from one classic to the next will probably find this book worth their while. But more pedestrian readers who don’t interpret books for a living are unlikely to gain more than a few minor tidbits of understanding about market freedom from this work. There’s no doubt that classical authors’ thoughts about freedom were conditioned by the societies they lived in, but the changing fortunes and content of "republicanism" in classical political theory still tells us next to nothing about how markets came to be associated with the idea of freedom.

If you're interested in political theory and have read Phillip Pettit's book Republicanism, then this is an excellent source for studying its roots in classical political theory. But that's all it is. The book's title is very misleading. The "invention of market freedom” can hardly be attributed to classical political theory in any meaningful sense. A more suitable title for this book would be ”Republicanism in the history of European political thought”. That would forewarn prospective readers of its purely academic content.
  thcson | Jun 6, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 052117189X, Paperback)

How did the value of freedom become so closely associated with the institution of the market? Why did the idea of market freedom hold so little appeal before the modern period, and how can we explain its rise to dominance? In The Invention of Market Freedom, Eric MacGilvray addresses these questions by contrasting the market conception of freedom with the republican view that it displaced. After analyzing the ethical core and exploring the conceptual complexity of republican freedom, MacGilvray shows how this way of thinking was confronted with, altered in response to, and finally overcome by the rise of modern market societies. By learning to see market freedom as something that was invented, we can become more alert to the ways in which the appeal to freedom shapes and distorts our thinking about politics.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:52 -0400)

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