ABSTRACT. The economic system of laissez-faire, free market capitalism has never been fully realized anywhere but it has been defended by many theorists.  This paper divides the defenses into two types, the scientific (or empirical) and the normative (or value-laden) varieties. The former may be traced to those like Adam Smith (although Smith had stressed some normative elements which, however, economist tend to disregard), while the latter may be traced to the likes of John Locke (though Locke was also an empiricist and scientist). In this paper these two types of defense are sketched and it is argued that the normative must be considered as the more significant, given the moral nature of human conduct and institutions. (pp. 15–33)

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