Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets

Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets

Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets

Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets

Synopsis

Markets are important forms of social and economic organization. They allow vast numbers of people, most of whom never meet, to cooperate together in a system of voluntary exchange. Through markets, people are able to signal to others their own desires, disseminate information, and reward innovation. Markets enable people to adjust their activities without the need for a central authority, and are recognized as the most efficient way we have to organize production and distribution in a complex economy. WIth the death of communism and the rise of globalization, markets and the theories that support them are enjoying a great resurgence. Markets are spreading across the globe, and extending into new domains. Most people view markets as heroic saviors that will remedy the deadening effects of bureaucracy and state control. Are they in fact a positive force? The noted philosopher Debra Satz takes a skeptical view of markets, pointing out that free markets are not always a force for good. The idea of free exchange of child labor, human organs, reproductive services, weapons, life saving medicines, and addictive drugs, strike many as toxic to human values. She asks: What considerations ought to guide the debates about such markets? What is it about the nature of particular exchanges that concerns us to the point that some types of markets are problematic? How should our social policies respond to these more noxious markets? Categories previously used by philosophers and economists are of limited help, because they assumed markets to be homogenous and of limited scope; Satz develops a broader and more nuanced view of markets whereby they not only allocate resources and incomes, but shape our culture, foster or thwart human development, and create and support structures of power. Satz's original and long-anticipated expression of her views on this important topic will be of interest to philosophers, political scientists, economists, and scholars in law and public policy.
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