Social Philosophy and Policy

Research Article


Michael C. Mungera1

a1 Political Science, Duke University


The arguments for redistribution of wealth, and for prohibiting certain transactions such as price-gouging, both are based in mistaken conceptions of exchange. This paper proposes a neologism, “euvoluntary” exchange, meaning both that the exchange is truly voluntary and that it benefits both parties to the transaction. The argument has two parts: First, all euvoluntary exchanges should be permitted, and there is no justification for redistribution of wealth if disparities result only from euvoluntary exchanges. Second, even exchanges that are not euvoluntary should generally be permitted, because access to market exchange may be the only means by which people in desperate circumstances can improve their position.

(Online publication May 31 2011)

Michael C. Munger is Professor of Political Science, Public Policy, and Economics at Duke University, where he served as chair of the Political Science Department for ten years. He directs Duke's Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program, working with Geoffrey Sayre-McCord at the University of North Carolina to run the joint program. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis in 1984.

* I acknowledge helpful comments from Geoffrey Brennan, Michael Gillespie, Ruth Grant, David Henderson, Clemens Kauffmann, Hans-Jörg Sigwart, Bryan Starrette, and John Tomasi. Most of all I thank Ellen Frankel Paul for pointing out problems ranging from small mistakes to wholesale nonsense.