Economic disorders and ethical order in Hegel's Philosophy of Right

Abstract : This paper challenges two previous articles published in EJHET concerning Hegel's outlook upon the economic sphere in his Philosophy of Right. These contributions interpret Hegel as the promoter of a fragile mix of economic liberalism and "political communitarianism" (Greer 1999) or alternatively as a theorist of economic nationalism (Nakano 2004). In this paper, it is argued that Hegel's economic thought has rather to be interpreted as promoting an ethical economy. It is shown that by reinterpreting dialectically the teachings of classical economics, Hegel considers the self-regulatory mechanisms that are at work in the market economy to be offering a mere potentiality that must be actualised. This actualisation implies at first institutional devices of market regulation and social protection, aiming to limit the uncertainty that is part and parcel of the play of market forces. But these standard elements of welfare state are themselves included by Hegel in a larger and less familiar device of ethical regulation, driven by the state and in charge of making conscious and then real the unity of particular and common interests. The Hegelian conception is, however, burdened with ambiguities and consequently appears more stimulating through the questions it asks rather than the answers it gives.
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Delphine Brochard, Michael Wiedorn. Economic disorders and ethical order in Hegel's Philosophy of Right. 2009. ⟨hal-00552130⟩

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