Following Foucault's analysis of German Neoliberalism Ordoliberalism and his thesis of ambiguity, this paper introduces a two-level distinction between individual and regulatory ethics.
W. TUDOR JONES, Ph.D. (Jena)
In particular, its aim is to reassess the importance of individual ethics in the conceptual framework of Ordoliberalism. The individual ethics of Ordoliberalism is based on the heritage of Judeo-Christian values and the Kantian individual liberty and responsibility. The regulatory or formal-institutional ethics of Ordoliberalism which has so far received most attention on the contrary refers to the institutional and legal framework of a socio-economic order.
By distinguishing these two dimensions of ethics incorporated in German Neoliberalism, it is feasible to distinguish different varieties of neoliberalism and to link Ordoliberalism to modern economic ethics. Eucken,  , History of Governmentality Foucault, The main aims, however, are the distinction between dissimilar varieties of neoliberalism and the connectivity of Ordoliberalism—as one variety of neoliberalism—to modern economic ethics. In this regard, the paper tackles the question of a potential compatibility between self-interest and the common good.
The unique answer Ordoliberalism gives is that on the supposition of an existing concord of the two levels—individual and regulatory ethics—can the harmony of private and public interests be reached. Equally important is the fact that the somehow deficient regulatory ethics level has to be complemented by the individual and virtue ethics level. With the help of a differentiated, less stereotypical and less prejudiced interpretation of Ordoliberalism it seems feasible to revise the dominant reception of Ordoliberalism which focuses solely on the formal-institutional ethics level while mainly neglecting the individual ethics level Foucault in this context is no exception.
The market-free sectors —as one integral component of this pillar—function as an antithetical counterweight: They supply the need for social integration and restore cultural and moral values. Neoliberalism consists of the advocacy of the market i. The remainder of the paper is, therefore, structured as follows: Section 2 analyzes the essential ordoliberal requirements of a socio-economic order i. Section 3 discusses the distinction between individual ethics and formal-institutional ethics in great detail.
The Judeo-Christian and Kantian fundament of Ordoliberalism is mainly explicated by referring to the work of Walter Eucken, main representative of the Freiburg School of Law and Economics i. The paper ends with a discussion of the special role of individual ethics in a globalised economy. Therefore, Ordoliberalism tries to solve the dilemma or trade-off between efficiency, performance capability and productive capacity on the one hand and positive freedom as capability , formal equality and social justice on the other hand. The primacy of ethics and the primacy of economics have to be avoided.
Furthermore, the socio-economic order has to be organised in a way that it enables an autonomous, self-reliant life in freedom i. What is essential is that the criteria of functionality and humanity are closely connected; they are interdependently and reciprocally linked—a super- or subordination does not exist at least in theory. Furthermore, competition is not an end in itself; rather it is a means to an end a fact that has received little attention among scholars, including Foucault himself. Moreover, it is not only a means in economic terms; it is the most prominent and elementary means regarding the twofold requirements profile of a socio-economic order i.
As we have already seen, it is the main aim of Ordoliberalism to establish a functioning and humane socio-economic order. Competition now serves as a hinge i. It increases the innovative and creative spirit and the overall prosperity of an economy. Beside these economic goals, competition also creates the material prerequisites for the realisation of positive freedom i.
By removing market powers, by dissolving the concentration of power and by minimising coercion, competition and market mechanisms make room for the free development of the individual in economic and socio-cultural terms: ideal competitive markets help to protect civil rights and liberties i. Eucken, on the other hand, remarks that the legal order and the state of the market alone are not sufficient—an adequate individual ethics and adequate moral standards are needed as well in order to complement the legal order cp.
No dichotomy can be detected, as assumed by Foucault. In the following subsection, I analyse this level in more detail. So far, it is important to note, that the regulatory ethics level has to be supplemented by the individual ethics level due to its eventual deficiencies.
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This second level—the so called individual ethics level —may be subdivided in three sections: the first type of individual-ethical self-commitment refers to the religious-sociological background i. First of all, I take a closer look at the commonly known regulatory ethics level. In other words: The state has to focus solely on the rules of the game instead of steering, influencing or intervening in market processes and the play itself i. Furthermore, it endangers and threatens the liberty of each individual due to the increasing market and political power of special interest groups.
Here, once again, an economic and at the same time ethical argument is put forward see section 2. The ideal ordoliberal state is a strong i. The state should be able to fend off particular interests, keep to the principle of neutrality and confine itself to Ordnungspolitik. The underlying liberal ideals are equality before the law, the rule of law, freedom of privileges, and the principle of non-discrimination quite similar to that of modern Constitutional Economics. As mentioned before, individual ethics is understood here in the sense of German Neoliberalism exhibiting a triple nature of individual-ethical self-commitment: a religious-sociological one 3.
Furthermore, we are aware of certain autobiographical notes pointing at the importantance of religion and Christianity in the life of Eucken himself. Moreover, he pleads for an ethical-religious renewal and a spiritual reformation in order to overcome the societal crisis of the present. The reason for the current ethical vacuum and nihilism—accompanied by decadence and a decline in values—is, according to Eucken, the loss of the religious ways of life respectively the suppression of religion in the public sphere.
The overall aim is to overcome immaturity and to reach the state of personal enlightenment and emancipation. In this regard, Eucken opposes socio-economic and political dependency, oppression, and exploitation as well as totalitarian ideologies Eucken, a; Eucken, b; Eucken, a. Liberty is incompatible with authoritarian and imperialistic systems. In the wake of such a development, the individual becomes increasingly incapable of expressing his or her right to self-determination.
By taking the fight against historism and its alleged relativism and irrationalism, Eucken directly refers to the tradition of the Enlightenment in general and Kantian philosophy in particular. He specifically accuses the proponents of historism, such as Sombart, Gottl-Ottlilienfeld and Spann, of expounding a fatalistic, deterministic and romanticized ideology. Eucken warns against the relativization of values, the relativization of the notion of truth, the relativity of knowledge and the danger that science might lose its ordering function i. Furthermore, he criticizes the skepticism and mistrust several historicists have towards the ratio and rationality i.
From an Euckenian perspective, the overcoming of historism is crucial, since historism is synonymous with fatalism, determinism, irrationalism and relativism. If not contained, historism would reinforce the societal crisis of the present ending in total nihilism, unfreedom and illiberalism. For Eucken, liberty must always be coupled with a comprehensive sense of liability and responsibility—towards oneself and towards others i.
Liberty is not just limited to negative freedom i. In addition, freedom is just not limited to economics i. The link between political and economic power, i. In addition, it conflicts with the central Kantian ideal. Man is merely a small piece of an anonymous, state-economic machine [ The individual becomes a thing and is no longer a person. The machine is an end, man the means.
He strives to protect the privacy and liberty of the individual against state intervention and collective usurpation. Which forms can also limit the misuse of liberty? Moreover, individual ethics and regulatory ethics are interconnected: The main aim of regulatory ethics i. From an economic-ethical perspective we can conclude that the economic plays of the game of the economic subjects are not! Consequently, he distinguishes between capitalism—which has to be overcome—and market economy—which has to be preserved a distinction neglected by Foucault and others.
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The ordoliberal conservatism relates to the preservation of traditional Judeo-Christian values see subsection 3. Economic integration expects an a priori outer-economic social integration i. The proper way to achieve this is the ordoliberal competitive order i. There are certain preconditions and barriers of the market economy which have to be recognized—otherwise the market economy cannot fulfil its steering functions.
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A competitive market economy demands an ethical fundament and a minimum of ethical standards Watrin,  , ff. In this regard, self-responsibility, independency, self-employment and the diffusion of private property i.
What is needed is a political, democratic and socio-cultural form of liberalism. They are subordinated and taken as means to an end i. The task of public policy is a meta-economical amendment and design of the Marktrand and—what is equally important—a demarcation of the limits of markets cp. They include the interdependency between economics, ethics and politics—the Aristotelian trias ; the embeddedness of the economy in a higher, meta-economic society i.
The main aim of the ancient Greek oikos Greek for house hold or family economy was the pursuit of independency and autarky in the sense of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. The polis—the ancient Greek city-states—consisted of several independent households oikos living in peace, harmony and social justice. Social cohesion was the keyword characterizing the ancient Greek societies. Socio-economic inequalities had to be prohibited since they were threatening social cohesion and social justice.
The economy was seen as being embedded in a higher, meta-economic society pervaded by ethical norms and values. This thesis has several strengths and some weaknesses. Foucault is absolutely right when he points at the ambivalences and tensions inside Ordoliberalism; he is right when comments on the significance of market-free and non-commercialized sectors within Ordoliberalism see sections 4 and 5 , and when he distinguishes between divergent varieties within the neoliberal movement i.