Jason Bernard Claxton writes at Counterpunch:
Free market advocates sometimes champion the free market as a means to an end, sometimes as an end in itself. Sometimes the free market is better at achieving certain goals than any alternative, sometimes there is no alternative. Sometimes the free market is the best way of achieving prosperity, security, and a good life for a people, sometimes the free market is “the only moral system.” If it were clear at any given moment which justification were being offered, a lot of confusion might be avoided. But free market advocates often take both positions within the same argument – a strategy that is rhetorically effective, but logically dubious.
When an owner’s right to dispose of property exactly as that owner desires is considered morally ultimate, then the free market becomes an end in itself. And if individual property rights are so sacred that no state of affairs that market intervention could possibly bring about would justify the rights violations that market intervention implies, then it simply wouldn’t matter whether more market regulated economies are more productive than free market economies. It wouldn’t matter whether more “socialistic” economies have, say, lower infant mortality and poverty rates, or higher literacy, job satisfaction, and social mobility rates than more free market oriented economies. All that matters is that individual property rights, which are supreme, are not violated. As long as this condition is met, the consequences of the free market system don’t matter at all.
Read more here.