Competition, consumerism, and the "Other". A philosophical investigation into the ethics of economic competition
This paper presents a philosophical discussion of the ethical foundations of economic competition, based in large part on Emmanuel Levinas's theory of exteriority and of responsibility for the "Other". The claim is that competition, notwithstanding its positive effects in terms of efficiency and innovativeness, ontologically neglects the "other-ness" of individuals. The fundamental factor in the neglect is the "consumerist" orientation of competitive capitalism through which even small price differences can cause large shifts in demand, so that many firms are choicelessly dependant on competitors' behavior. This analysis based on Levinas significantly deepens Frank Knight's seventy year-old ethical critique of competition.
Competition; Consumer economics; Ethics; Philosophy of economics
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