Free Marketers Should Take Social Conservatives Seriously

Free Marketers Should Take Social Conservatives Seriously

It's no secret that major rifts have opened up between advocates of free markets and social conservatives in recent years. As someone who (1) ascribes to what would be conventionally called socially conservative views (though I think they're more accurately called the insights of natural law and right reason) and (2) regards a free market economy as the most prudent set of economic arrangements for individuals, communities, and nations, I find myself constantly exposed to these debates.

In some cases, the tensions reflect very different conceptions of human nature, freedom, the nature of community, and the proper ends and scope of state action. There is a profound and millennia-old difference, for example, between those who ascribe to the idea of liberty as a necessary condition for the higher freedom that comes from all-round human flourishing (the position of Aquinas and the classical natural law tradition), versus those who conceptualize liberty in essentially Epicurean – i.e., hedonistic – terms.

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