Some might get impatient with such abstract discussion, claiming that it avoids real issues or fails to contexualize our concerns. However, I get similarly impatient with those who crusade against ‘markets’ in education, perhaps on the grounds, as we shall see, that education is a ‘public good’, or that markets won’t satisfy ‘equality of opportunity’, without being clear what is meant by these concepts or how they relate to each other. This argument is abstract because as a philosopher I hope to ‘clear the air’ so that discussion about practical policies can continue more constructively. But that said, this of course is not the only way to proceed with the argument for markets and against state intervention in education. (I choose the term ‘state intervention’ carefully, because it emphasizes that before the State got involved educational provision was provided by markets and the other agencies of civil society, and that state intervention was an artificial intrusion into this process.) An adequate ‘defence’ of markets would also need and benefit from historical and empirical work to show both the failures of state intervention in education, the historical successes of non-state educational provision (see West, 1975, High and Ellig, 1992), and benefits of market mechanisms in education and in general (see Chubb and Moe, 1990, and Gray, 1992). My argument complements this other work. It might

seem dry by comparison, but then, in some circles in which I mix, ‘wetness’ is not necessarily a virtue.