Contracting parties are the best judges of their own interests. So goes the usual story found in the classical liberal literature. Within a classical liberal framework, we are told, prices are not determined by any particular individual, but are rather the result of the many market interactions of autonomous agents. To impose a just price is then thought to be illiberal. This chapter questions such a position. It demonstrates that some transactions could not happen in a market society without a certain theory of just prices, and that such transactions then feed into our understanding of markets, therefore making just prices a de facto reality. Classical liberals should accordingly reassess their view of just prices, such a notion being indispensable to workable market societies.
Can We Meaningfully Talk About Just Prices? in Åsbjørn Melkevik, If You’re a Classical Liberal, How Come You’re Also an Egalitarian? A Theory of Rule Egalitarianism (Springer, March 2020).