ENS de Lyon
Abstract: In Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman seeks to establish that free market can be thought of as the best possible device to realize the idea of democracy for it allows all individuals to directly decide of their own existence. In order to reach such a conclusion Friedman reduces first the idea of democracy to an ideal of maximum extension of individual freedom. This reduction is based on a strong individualism and on the idea that there is an irreducible diversity of individual preferences. These same elements allow him to criticize the representative form of democracy as necessarily involving phenomena of tyranny of the majority that the market could prevent. Democracy is defined by Friedman in a way that relies heavily on the values of autonomy and pluralism that could be optimally promoted by the market (according to him). This definition of the democratic ideal introduces the possibility to conceive the relation between economic experts and democracy as non-conflictual: the economic science is supposed to give value-neutral prescriptions to lawmakers in order to optimally frame the markets on which the individuals can govern themselves through their choices. In this paper I intend to demonstrate that this interpretation of the idea of democracy as no more than an ideal of maximum extension of individual freedom is uncomplete since it lacks determinacy, opening thus potential issues of arbitrage between economic freedom and political freedom. In addition, it is to be noted that the idea of equal power of citizens that is constitutive of democracy needs to be eliminated if one wants to present the free market as the ideal democratic device.
Keywords: Neoliberalism, Milton Friedman, Democracy, Market, Efficiency