Title: Democratic capitalism and respect for the value of freedom

Authors: Waheed Hussain

Addresses: Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

Abstract: Most theorists believe that when it comes to freedom, no economic system does better than laissez-faire capitalism – the system may have other problems, but as far as freedom is concerned, laissez-faire is as good as it gets. The goal of this paper is to show that this view is mistaken. I begin by criticising two important contemporary conceptions of freedom, the libertarian and the liberal egalitarian conceptions, both of which support the dominant view. I then develop a better alternative, one that I call the social democratic conception of freedom. Using this conception, I go on to show that an economic system that requires firms to have an internal structure that makes decision-making more transparent and responsive to the concerns of workers actually shows greater respect for freedom than laissez-faire capitalism does.

Keywords: freedom; autonomy; democracy; corporate governance; economic democracy; workplace democracy; co-determination; capitalism; business governance; laissez-faire capitalism; democratic capitalism.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBGE.2006.011159

International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, 2006 Vol.2 No.3/4, pp.280 - 293

Published online: 19 Oct 2006 *

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