Natural Harmony of Interests

The notion of a natural harmony of interests plays a significant role in libertarian thought. It is predicated on the idea that individual interests are harmonious insofar as acting in one's own interest furthers the interests of the community. Improving the general welfare is an unintended consequence of self-interested behavior. This unintended consequence is based on what Jacob Viner calls the “coordinating, harmonizing, and organizing function of free competition.” The main points of contention regarding this doctrine concern the question as to how widespread and extensive this harmony is and the question of whether state action is required to put in place the right institutional framework to ensure that interests are harmonious.

The idea that the interests of a large group of individuals could be naturally ...

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