A criterion for the choice between different (economic, political or social) systems may be the capability of a system to pursue the ends that correspond to one’s interests and values (that is to a system of preferences over alternative social states) (The higher the level of social development, the stronger the tendency towards variety and differentia- tion, i.e., enrichment of the forms of social and economic life’ Kowalik, 2003: p. 206). The adoption of specific varieties of the institutions that make up a system can be calibrated to the pursuit of those aims, given the initial historical and institutional setup. Thus, the system and the institutions that make it up and qualify its specific variety can be seen as a means, an empirically adaptable instrument, rather than an end in itself. An alternative viewpoint attributes an intrinsic value to the choice of a system as such. The choice of the system becomes a choice of intrinsic, epochal or ethical, value, a choice of civilisation, independent of the actual results that such a choice may bring about in the imme- diate or in the middle run (historically speaking). This remark applies to both economic and political systems. For instance, the second view- point is often applied to democracy, seen as a value in itself rather than, à la Churchill, as the least obnoxious political system that has been invented up to now, since it renders relatively more probable social states that are valued higher relative to widely (albeit not unanimously) shared social values.
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