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Abstract

Must consistent liberals regard the firm as a public institution and hold it accountable to democratic norms? Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis have recently tried to establish this conclusion on the basis of a critique of the Walrasian analysis of labor markets. This essay endeavors to show, however, that Bowles and Gintis fail to make a persuasive case for the democratic enterprise because they overestimate the importance of Walrasian analysis to liberalism. Austrian economics provides liberals with a logically coherent, non-Walrasian way of denying the existence of employer power. More importantly, liberals do not share the key presumption of Bowles and Gintis that all power must be democratically accountable.

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