By John McMurtry

Cover of unequal freedoms: the global market as an ethical system
Part of the books by John McMurtry series:
Editions:Paperback: $ 24.00
ISBN: 9781551930039
Pages: 400

Unequal Freedoms:

  • Covers a broad spectrum of themes developed by important thinkers including John Locke, Karl Marx, Peter Drucker, and Robert Reich
  • Unearths a range of issues including human need, environmental crises, consumerism, and citizenship

Unequal Freedoms is the intelligent citizen’s complete guide to the theory and practice of the global market, with clear and direct applicability to everyday life-experiences and emerging controversies and debates. This moral philosopher offers a step-by-step analysis of the global order as an ethical system, employing easy-to-follow arguments and focused analyses that are intelligible and interesting to students, scholars, and anyone attempting to come to grips with the crises of the contemporary world.

About John McMurthy

John McMurtryJohn McMurtry holds a doctorate from the University of London, and is a Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Guelph. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a President’s Distinguished Professor, McMurtry is known for being engaged both in the classroom and the community. He studies the philosophies of politics, economics, education, literature, history and the environment, and his work has been published in more than 150 books and journals. Most recently, he has focused his research on the value structure of economic theory and its consequences for global civil and environmental life. His publications include The Dimensions of English, The Structure of Marx's World View, and Understanding War.


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Reviews:Andrew Levine on Ethics wrote:

"This massive, wide-ranging and highly simulating jeremiad is organized around two related claims: that the increasingly global market system that has emerged in recent decades diminishes freedom for the vast majority of the world’s population, subordinating virtually the whole of social life to a market logic at odds with rational desires, defensible environmental concerns, and, for many people, fundamental human needs; and that this economic transformation (functionally) explains the increasingly pervasive but patently false conviction that there is no feasible alternative to what is coming to pass and therefore that political efforts aimed at enhancing freedom or even at restoring the condition that obtained before the pace of globalization accelerated are futile at best. [...] It would be wrong, however, to conclude that what McMurtry has produced is, wittingly or not, a contemporary remake of Marx’s classic. [...] If it is fair to say that Unequal Freedoms brings the 1844 Manuscripts [of Marx] up-to-date, it is also fair to say that it lightens the philosophical load and political bearing of its distinguished predecessor. [...] McMurtry’s tract is consistently well-argued, eminently clear, and carefully constructed. But it is more a work of public than academic political philosophy and political economy. Philosophers, economists, and political scientists will find their disciplines ably represented, insofar as McMurtry’s discussions focus on their express concerns. But they will also find much with which to quarrel at the level of specificity that the best academic writing in these fields characteristically assumes. [...] Thus Unequal Freedoms does not stand out for the contributions it makes to the academic fields it draws on any more than it does for the originality of its outlook. Its considerable merit lies instead in the cogent, sober, but still passionate way in which it brings so much philosophy, political science, economics, and plain common sense to bear — to indict existing and emerging economic, political, and social arrangements and the ideological operations that sustain them. Unequal Freedoms is public philosophy of a high order. "

Further Reading

Articles responding to the book:

Table of Contents of Unequal Freedoms

Part I: Behind the Invisible Hand

  • Introduction: An overview
  • The Problem: A Question of Freedom
  • The Market as God

Part II: Market Theory and Practice: Arguments Pro and Con

  • Freedom, Private Property, and Money: From John Locke to the New World Order
  • Private Profit, Competition, and the Social Good
  • The Free Market and Democracy
  • The Market Metaphysic: Rallying Cries and True Meanings

Part III: Planetary Health, the Global Market, and the Civil Commons

  • The Decoupling of Capital from Civil and Environmental Life
  • The Mutations of the Profit System and Their Cure
  • The Economics of Life and Death
  • Conclusion: The Way Ahead