Is There a Public Philosophy in Central-Eastern Europe? Equity and Distribution 'Then' and 'Now'

December 30, 1998

This paper reviews the conditions for the emergence of a public philosophy in Hungary (and to some extent in Central-Eastern Europe) in the last decades. It concludes that the simultaneous presence of all conditions for a public philosophy was seldom achieved. The chances have improved with the last regime change, but there are still impediments.

The second part of the paper describes a set of arguments relating to the basic ideological debate on the respective roles of the state and of the market, touching also on the role of civil society. It then turns to the impact of the old and new dominant views on the principles of (re)distribution. The thesis of the paper is that the views representing conflicting ethical stances never have had an equal chance to influence politics, essentially because they are supported by unequally powerful interests.