Individual Rights. The most basic and widely understood principle of the free market is that of individual rights to life, liberty, property and voluntary contractual exchange. Individual rights encompass not only the right to control ones own life, liberty and property, but also to defend those rights.
Limited Government. The limited role of government solely to the defense of the rights of individuals is also an important and almost universally understood principle of the free market.
Equal Justice Under Law. The principle of equal justice is critically important to the function of the free market. Government must treat all individuals and organizations equally, refraining from giving any legal support to popular discriminatory practices. Government must also never succumb to the temptation to reward unsuccessful businesses and individuals with special benefits or heap additional burdens on successful business.
Spontaneous Order. The tendency for markets to order themselves naturally through the laws of supply and demand is one of the most familiar principles of the free market. When individual rights are respected, unregulated competition will naturally tend to reduce costs and increase the abundance of products that are in demand. This principle is also referred to as the invisible hand of the marketplace.
Private Ownership. The principle of private ownership is the free market belief that property that is owned by the state, or is communally owned, is not respected or preserved as effectively as that property which is owned by private individuals or corporations. This principle is also commonly referred to as the tragedy of the commons.
Subsidiarity. Many free market organizations, such as the Acton Institute, believe the principle of subsidiarity is essential to keeping free markets competitive...