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Markets without Symbolic Limits

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Abstract

Semiotic objections to commodification hold that buying and selling certain goods and services is wrong because of what market exchange communicates or because it violates the meaning of certain goods, services, and relationships. We argue that such objections fail. The meaning of markets and of money is a contingent, socially constructed fact. Cultures often impute meaning to markets in harmful, socially destructive, or costly ways. Rather than semiotic objections giving us reason to judge certain markets as immoral, the usefulness of certain mar- kets gives us reason to judge certain semiotic codes as immoral.

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... Second, while I concede that "there is no deep metaphysical fact about the meaning of money and markets" I also maintain that there is more to learn about markets in various goods than simply the feelings and attitudes they happen to elicit in some time and place. (Brennan & Jaworski, 2015, 1076 2 Brennan and Jaworski may be correct to say that market exchanges have "little essential meaning" but that little, I suggest, goes a long way. (Brennan & Jaworski, 2016, 50) Following Elizabeth Anderson and others, I argue that knowledge about what markets are and how they function sheds light on questions concerning what kinds of goods are properly treated in accordance with market norms. ...
... 3 Semiotic or symbolic objections to markets is a class of argument to which Brennan and Jaworski devote considerable attention. Semiotic arguments against markets in certain goods rely upon the idea that markets in those goods "communicate, signal, express, or symbolize the wrong motive or attitude" (Brennan & Jaworski, 2015, 1055. According to anti-commodification theorists like Elizabeth Anderson, Margaret Jane Radin, Michael Sandel, Debra Satz, Michael Walzer and others, "certain things cannot be for sale because that violates the meaning of those goods" (Brennan & Jaworski, 2015, 1057. ...
... Semiotic arguments against markets in certain goods rely upon the idea that markets in those goods "communicate, signal, express, or symbolize the wrong motive or attitude" (Brennan & Jaworski, 2015, 1055. According to anti-commodification theorists like Elizabeth Anderson, Margaret Jane Radin, Michael Sandel, Debra Satz, Michael Walzer and others, "certain things cannot be for sale because that violates the meaning of those goods" (Brennan & Jaworski, 2015, 1057. 4 Brennan and Jaworski concede that people are generally repulsed by markets in certain goods (surrogacy services or human kidneys, for instance) but they also maintain that "the meaning of markets is, in general, a highly contingent, fluid, socially constructed fact" (Brennan & Jaworski, 2016, 50). ...
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Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski argue in recent work that “semiotic” or “symbolic” objections to markets are unsuccessful. I counter-argue that there are indeed some semiotic limits on markets and that anti-commodification theorists are not merely expressing disgust when they disapprove of markets in certain goods on those grounds. One central argument is that, contrary to what Brennan and Jaworski claim, semiotic arguments against markets do not depend fundamentally on meanings that prevail about markets. Rather, they depend on the meanings that attach to various goods, meanings that give us moral bases on which to make judgments about their prospective commodification.
... I happen to think that those who generally speaking advocate market-based allocation of goods and who defend the market against its critics [e.g. 8,9,58,59] will have an easier time seeing the potential of agent-democratic markets (and thus reading this essay). But even for those who are dismissive of markets this essay holds something. ...
... As Anderson has recently argued, most workers in non-democratically governed firms basically "are governed by communist dictatorships in their work lives", with the status quo of workplace government being "both arbitrary and dictatorial" [4, p.63]. 9 Second, one might also hold that agent-democratic markets allow for a more legitimate form of democratic decision making on economic matters. It seems fair to say that most democratic theorists work with the presumption that lower level decision making is "more legitimate", where scaling up requires a further justification. ...
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This essay examines a new way to exercise democratic control over the market. Instead of a democratic government interfering with a market's outcomes (e.g. via taxes or minimum wages), we may also "democratize" the market by requiring that all relevant group agents who participate in that market (notably: firms) be democratically governed. This is what I call an agent-democratic market. The purpose of this essay is to argue for the claim that agent-democratic markets are a normatively viable way to democratize the market - and potentially constitute a genuine alternative to the standard approach of subjecting market outcomes to democratic control
... Moral intuitions will diverge in hard cases. The ethics of price gouging (Zwolinski 2008) or of commodification, e.g., selling human organs on markets, are well known examples (Roth 2007;Sandel 2012;Brennan and Jaworski 2015). In many instances, reaching equilibrium will mean ultimately adjusting intuitions to theories rather than theories to intuitions. ...
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A more robust, inclusive model of value creation will sharpen dominant normative theories of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) such as stakeholder theory and the theory of communicative/deliberative democracy. When measuring value creation, CSR theories oscillate between traditional, exchange-based approaches utilizing narrow financial metrics and value-oriented approaches embedded in prominent CSR theories. The two are often in conflict. The problem is aggravated by CSR’s assumption that all firms, regardless of industry, possess the same generic responsibilities. A mining company, a sports betting service, and a medical device manufacturer are on all fours when measuring CSR success. The paper identifies a contradiction between settled normative convictions and the corporate decision making that normative CSR theories prescribe. Using the pharmaceutical industry as an example, it references the widespread conviction that during the 2019 Covid-19 pandemic some pharmaceutical companies had a responsibility to reach beyond the goal of financial optimization. It then explains why this conviction cannot be rationalized using two prominent normative theories of CSR, namely, stakeholder theory and the theory of communicative/deliberative democracy. The problem hinges on a defective model of value creation. One implication of the analysis is that healthcare companies should readjust corporate governance in order to make health a focal goal alongside that of profit. At the same time, a semiconductor firm might satisfy its CSR responsibilities by only designating profit as its focal goal. The thrust of the paper is to show why reconceiving the model of value creation can advance not only stakeholder and communicative/deliberative democracy theories, but all CSR.
... Anderson's position has been subject to criticism, notably by Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski (Brennan and Jaworski 2015). These critics ask whether there is any substance to the 'expressive' objections to markets pressed by Anderson that does not in fact derive its force from other, already recognised normative considerations. ...
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In pursuit of a theory of expressive reasons, I focus on the practical rationality of actions such as welcoming, thanking, congratulating, saluting – I label them ‘expressive actions.’ How should we understand the kinds of practical reasons that count in favour of expressive actions? I argue that this question is related to the question of how to understand non-instrumental fittingness-type reasons for emotion. Expressive actions often are and should be expressions of emotion. It seems to be an important feature of such actions that the reasons that count in favour of the action are entangled with reasons of fittingness that count in favour of the relevantly connected emotion. But how should we understand this entanglement? I argue that the relevant category of reasons cannot be captured on approaches standard in normative theory. I develop a theory of sui generis expressive reasons. I argue that we have reason to perform actions that mark certain situations that contain some significant value or disvalue, independently of any reason to alter those situations. This is the role of expressive actions. Sui generis reasons for expressive actions are entangled with reasons for relevantly connected emotions because (some) emotions have the same role of marking extraordinary situations.
... This is a general problem with arguments that appeal to the symbolic meanings of actions. If some otherwise beneficial action or policy is objected to on the grounds of what it conventionally symbolizes or expresses, we should alter this convention or, indeed, ignore it altogether (see Brennan & Jaworski, 2015). ...
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Recent decades have witnessed tremendous progress in artificial intelligence and in the development of autonomous systems that rely on artificial intelligence. Critics, however, have pointed to the difficulty of allocating responsibility for the actions of an autonomous system, especially when the autonomous system causes harm or damage. The highly autonomous behavior of such systems, for which neither the programmer, the manufacturer, nor the operator seems to be responsible, has been suspected to generate responsibility gaps. This has been the cause of much concern. In this article, I propose a more optimistic view on artificial intelligence, raising two challenges for responsibility gap pessimists. First, proponents of responsibility gaps must say more about when responsibility gaps occur. Once we accept a difficult-to-reject plausibility constraint on the emergence of such gaps, it becomes apparent that the situations in which responsibility gaps occur are unclear. Second, assuming that responsibility gaps occur, more must be said about why we should be concerned about such gaps in the first place. I proceed by defusing what I take to be the two most important concerns about responsibility gaps, one relating to the consequences of responsibility gaps and the other relating to violations of jus in bello.
... Views about symbolic significance can transform over time. Indeed, if current views about symbolic significance prevent us from realizing important goals (like medical advancement), we might have moral reasons to try to bring about this transformation (Brennan and Jaworski 2015;Koplin 2018). ...
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DNA databases have significant commercial value. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies have built databanks using samples and information voluntarily provided by customers. As the price of genetic analysis falls, there is growing interest in building such databases by paying individuals for their DNA and personal data. This paper maps the ethical issues associated with private companies paying for DNA. We outline the benefits of building better genomic databases and describe possible concerns about crowding out, undue inducement, exploitation, and commodification. While certain objections deserve more empirical and philosophical investigation, we argue that none currently provide decisive reasons against using financial incentives to secure DNA samples.
... These works all seem to deny the thesis even read as an existential generic. For responses, see Brennan & Jaworski (2015b, 2015c, 2016a, 2016b and Jonker (2019), though the latter piece is not in favor of the Markets without Limits thesis. conditions. ...
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The ‘limits of markets’ debate broadly concerns the question of when it is (im)permissible to have a market in some good. Markets can be of tremendous benefit to society, but many have felt that certain goods should not be for sale (e.g., sex, kidneys, bombs). Their sale is argued to be corrupting, exploitative, or to express a form of disrespect. In Markets without Limits, Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski have recently argued to the contrary: For any good, as long as it is permissible to give it for free, then it is permissible to give it for money. Their thesis has led to a number of engaging objections, and I leverage recent work on the nature of feasibility within political philosophy to offer a new challenge. I argue that feasibility offers a constraint on which markets can be permissibly implemented. Though it may be possible to create a morally acceptable version of an otherwise repugnant market, some of these markets may be infeasible, and so we are not permitted to implement them. After laying out this challenge, I consider several replies. They concern the relevance of feasibility, and whether any markets really are infeasible. This provides an opportunity to explore the dangers of pursuing the infeasible and with markets generally. I conclude by considering what might lead us to pursue these markets despite their infeasibility, or how knowledge of infeasibility may prove useful regardless.
... This makes it desirable from a normative point of view to empower sharing partners to take advantage of the platform economy's flexibility without sacrificing the benefits of income generation and consumption. While we support the view taken by libertarian approaches to the sharing economy (e.g., Farren et al., 2016) and business ethics more generally (Brennan & Jaworski, 2016;Hasnas, 1998Hasnas, , 2013Heath, 2014;Jaworski, 2014) that private rule innovations-by entrepreneurs and companies, and supported by civil society-can promote the interests of both sharing partners and society, we argue that the same holds true for public rule innovations, provided that governments follow an adequate second-order approach to regulation. Even if one concedes that government has grown too big and powerful (cf. ...
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Can private companies legitimately regulate sharing markets, and if yes, how? Whereas scholars have either criticized sharing platforms for expanding into private and public arenas or welcomed them to counterbalance encroaching government regulations, studies document their unbridled popularity. On the basis of a special version of social contracts theory pioneered by James Buchanan, we develop a heuristics that helps guide reasoning about the legitimacy of the sharing economy’s regulatory function. First, we discuss the conditions under which free and responsible individuals deliberately subject themselves to rules without their prior direct participation, that is, exit, voice, and constitutional limits. Second, we suggest sharing platforms can use novel ordo-responsibilities to establish a sharing constitution that takes these conditions into account. Third, we argue that sharing platforms can legitimately do so within an enabling institutional environment in society, the provision of which relies on the joint efforts of sharing platforms, political actors, and civil society.
... The robust literature on kidney markets coalesces around two especially salient concerns, however: the exploitation of donors, and the commodification of bodies and body-parts. While different positions on the permissibility of organ markets continue to enjoy support (Brennan and Jaworski 2015;Omar et al. 2010;Semrau 2017a, b;Satz 2008;Campbell 2016;Ghods 2015), there is widespread agreement that certain kinds of benefits to living organ donors are acceptable and do not raise concerns of either commodification or exploitation. Cash payments offered as incentives to donate are a source of controversy, but reimbursements for costs of travel and time away from work are commonly accepted (Working Group 2012; Giubilini 2015; Delmonico et al. 2002). ...
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While different positions on the permissibility of organ markets enjoy support, there is widespread agreement that some benefits to living organ donors are acceptable and do not raise the same moral concerns associated with organ markets, such as exploitation and commodification. We argue on the basis of two distinctions that some benefit packages offered to donors can defensibly surpass conventional reimbursement while stopping short of controversial cash payouts. The first distinction is between benefits that defray the costs of donating an organ and benefits that incentivize donation by offering something in excess of defraying. The second distinction is between benefits that compensate donors and benefits that are non-compensating. We argue that non-compensating benefits are innocent of moral concerns typically associated with controversial cash payouts, and thus may be a morally promising avenue for increasing rates of kidney donation to address the tragic results of undersupply.
... See e.g. Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski's arguments against what they call 'semiotic objections' to certain market activities in(Brennan and Jaworski 2015). ...
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Rational explanation of action out of emotion faces a number of challenges. The Wrong Explanation Challenge says that explaining action out of emotion by reference to a purpose rather than an emotion gets it wrong. The Redundancy Challenge says that if explanation of an action by reference to emotion is sufficient then rational explanation is redundant. And the No Further Justification Challenge says that there is no more to say, at the level of rational explanation, about why people act as they do out of a particular emotion. Furthermore, even if these challenges can be addressed, there is a Problem of Expressive Action, since many actions out of emotion seem unpromising candidates for being guided by normative practical reasons of the prudential, instrumental, deontic or consequentialist sort. In response, I argue that many actions out of emotions should be understood as expressive actions guided by the agent’s conception of normative practical reasons: specifically, their conception of expressive reasons.
... However, as the work of sociologists, economists and social psychologists show, there is nothing automatic in money dominating our interpretation of an act. [28][29][30][31] Money that is framed in the right way can even support the moral message by giving it more weight, as when a parking ticket successfully complements a moral message against free-riding on public goods or the Nobel Prize is accompanied by 1 million dollars. ...
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Worldwide 1.2 million people are dying from kidney failure each year, and in the USA alone, approximately 100 000 people are currently on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. One possible solution to the kidney shortage is for governments to pay donors for one of their healthy kidneys and distribute these kidneys according to need. There are, however, compelling objections to this government-monopsony model. To avoid these objections, I propose a small adjustment to the model. I suggest we reward kidney sellers with both money and a ceremony that celebrates their noble act. They should, in other words, receive a prize rather than a price.
... One might reply that this account merely instantiates what Brennan and Jaworski (2015) deem a semiotic objection to intimate labor, according to which the practice is only wrong because it signals or expresses an attitude of disrespect. The problem with leveling a semiotic objection against a particular social practice, according to Brennan and Jaworski, is that it leaves open two possibilities: one, that we should ban the practice, or two, that we should change our attitudes and beliefs about the practice. ...
Article
Anti-commodification theorists condemn liberal political philosophers for not being able to justify restricting a market transaction on the basis of what is sold, but only on the basis of how it is sold. The anti-commodification theorist is correct that if this were all the liberal had to say in the face of noxious markets, it would be inadequate: even if everyone has equal bargaining power and no one is misled, there are some goods that should not go to the highest bidder. In this paper, I respond to the anti-commodification critique of liberalism by arguing that the political liberal has the wherewithal to account not only for the conditions under which goods should not be sold, but also for what kinds of goods should not be for sale in a market economy. The political liberal can appeal to a principle of equal basic rights, and to one of sufficiency in basic needs and the social bases of self-respect, I argue, to account for what’s problematic about markets in civic goods, necessary goods, and physical goods including body parts and intimate services.
... It might be thought that Moriarty's Connection Thesis could be leveraged to support this pluralist conception. The fact that "semiotic objections" to product markets (Brennan and Jaworski 2015) dealing with blood, organs and pornography abound in academic literature should give us pause when Moriarty minimizes the expressive dimensions of conventional labor markets on the grounds that expression is simply 'not the point' of pay. But this comparison does not invoke the Connection Thesis since it does not trade on the 'structural similarity' (454-455) between price discrimination and NUPEW. ...
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... 14 For a recent discussion of some of the expressive dimensions of business ethics, see Matthew Caulfield's (Forthcoming). For an important critique of semiotic objections to the commodification of certain goods and services, see Brennan and Jaworski's (2015). 15 The social media responses involved in several of the mass outrage cases sometimes seems to take the form of what Tosi and Warmke (2016) call moral grandstanding. ...
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When an employee’s off-duty conduct generates mass social media outrage, managers commonly respond by firing the employee. This, I argue, can be a mistake. The thesis I defend is the following: the fact that a firing would occur in a mass social media outrage context brought about by the employee’s off-duty conduct generates a strong ethical reason weighing against the act. In particular, it contributes to the firing constituting an inappropriate act of blame. Scholars who caution against firing an employee for off-duty conduct have thus far focused primarily on due process related issues or legal concerns pertaining to free speech, lifestyle discrimination, and employment at-will. However, these concerns amount to only a partial, and contingent, diagnosis of what is at issue. I argue that even when due process considerations are met, firings in these contexts can be unjustified. Moreover, even if a business is not concerned with the unethical conduct per se, but is rather strictly concerned with PR, the argument I advance nevertheless provides one important ethical reason that counts against firings in mass social media outrage contexts. Given that managers are often under significant pressure to respond swiftly in cases where an employee is at the center of mass social media outrage, it is especially important that scholars begin to clarify the normative issues. This article builds on the burgeoning philosophical literature on the ethics of blame and provides a novel account of a distinctive ethical concern that arises with firings in mass social media outrage contexts.
... This "expressive" consequentialism is common in other symbolic objections to cultural practices. 16 The interaction with the robot could also have downstream effects on the user, changing his/her interactions with other human ...
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This chapter examines a common objection to sex robots: the symbolic-consequences argument. According to this argument sex robots are problematic because they symbolise something disturbing about our attitude to sex-related norms such as consent and the status of our sex partners, and because of the potential consequences of this symbolism. After formalising this objection and considering several real-world uses of it, the chapter subjects it to critical scrutiny. It argues that while there are grounds for thinking that sex robots could symbolically represent a troubling attitude toward women (and maybe children) and the norms of interpersonal sexual relationships, the troubling symbolism is going to be removable in many instances and reformable in others. What will ultimately matter are the consequences of the symbolism but these consequences are likely to be difficult to ascertain. This may warrant an explicitly experimental approach to the development of this technology.
... Moral philosophers have argued that some contested commodities should not be for sale and that there are moral limits to the market (Sandel 2012;Satz 2010). In response, Brennan and Jaworski (2015b) argue such limits are symbolic in nature by, in part, drawing upon sociological research to "provide evidence that the meaning of markets and of money is, in general, a highly contingent, fluid social constructed fact" (p. 1057). ...
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Are there any viable semiotic objections to commodification? A semiotic objection holds that even if there is no independent consequentialist or deontic objection to the marketing of a good—such as that it is exploitative or causes third party harm—there remains a problem with what is said by participating in that market. Recent discussion of semiotic objections have suffered from a basic ambiguity in such talk. As Grice pointed out, there is a difference between saying that smoke on the horizon means fire, and saying that it means there will be war tomorrow. We could say that in the former case smoke indicates fire because of its causal connection with fire, while in the latter case smoke expresses a call to war because that is the non-natural meaning given to it by convention or by its place in a communicative practice. The recent defenses of semiotic objections presented by Anthony Booth, Jacob Sparks, and Mark Wells do not survive this distinction, as they either complain about non-semiotic facts that are indicated rather than expressed by markets, or they complain about semiotic features of markets, but these complaints inevitably collapse into weak consequentialist objections. But this result is not bad for anticommodificationists, as semiotic objections have dialectical disadvantages.
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In contemporary debates over blocked exchanges, there is a tendency to become fixated on the essentially tradeable or untradeable nature of given goods or practices without entering into the wider constitutional questions raised by the issue of where and when market logic should obtain. This article offers some perspective on contemporary commodification debates by examining an eighteenth-century conversation over ethical and legal limitations on market activity. In particular, it examines Montesquieu’s contribution to debates about the venality of office and the laws prohibiting noble participation in commerce. Montesquieu made some counter-intuitive arguments about which exchanges should be blocked and which permitted in a monarchical regime: he championed blocking noble participation in commerce, and he supported the sale of office. Both positions were controversial in his time and strike many today as patently absurd. But Montesquieu’s thought on the limits of commerce in a monarchy can inform contemporary debates on the ethical and political significance of commodification. The question of how far market logic should extend is ultimately a question of the type of political regime that one is considering. This article contributes to non-ideal political theory by suggesting that commodification debates need to go beyond abstract ethical reflections on markets and become more attuned to the particular constitutional contexts of any given blocked-exchange debate. © 2019 Northeastern Political Science Association. All rights reserved.
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Cambridge Core - History of Ideas and Intellectual History - The Political Morality of the Late Scholastics - by Daniel Schwartz
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Incommensurability is a failure, or an impossibility, to make value comparisons of different choices. It represents an important criticism of the proportionality test in judicial decision making and of the cost-benefit analysis as a tool for assessing public policy. This entry summarizes the basic theories of value incommensurability.
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We sometimes have reasons to perform actions due to what they would communicate. Those who have discussed such reasons have understood what an action ‘communicates’ as what it conventionally expresses. Brennan and Jaworski argue that when a convention ensures that expressing the appropriate thing would be costly, we should change or flout the convention. I argue that what really matters is often what attitudes we indicate rather than conventionally express, using social science to show that indicating our attitudes is often unavoidably costly, and sometimes worth the cost. I use this account to defend communicative arguments for egalitarian distributive policies.
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Cambridge Core - Ethics - Debunking Arguments in Ethics - by Hanno Sauer
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Proponents of semiotic arguments against the commodification of certain goods face the following challenge: formulate your argument such that it does not appeal to immoral consequences, nor is really an argument showing that we ought to reform the meaning we give to commodification. I here attempt to meet this challenge via appeal to the notion of what I call proto-on-a-par value. Under this construal, the semiotic argument yields that the commodification of certain goods necessarily signals value choice, where value choice ought not to be signaled. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of.
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In Markets Without Limits and a series of related papers, Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski argue that it is morally permissible to buy and sell anything that it is morally permissible to possess and exchange outside of the market. Accordingly, we should (Brennan and Jaworski argue) open markets in “contested commodities” including blood, gametes, surrogacy services, and transplantable organs. This paper clarifies some important aspects of the case for market boundaries and in so doing shows why there are in fact moral limits to the market. I argue that the case for restricting the scope of the market does not (as Brennan and Jaworski assume) turn on the idea that some things are constitutively non-market goods; it turns instead on the idea that treating some things according to market norms would threaten the realization of particular kinds of human interests.
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McLachlan and Swales dispute my arguments against commercial surrogate motherhood. In reply, I argue that commercial surrogate contracts objectionably commodify children because they regard parental rights over children not as trusts, to be allocated in the best interests of the child, but as like property rights, to be allocated at the will of the parents. They also express disrespect for mothers, by compromising their inalienable right to act in the best interest of their children, when this interest calls for mothers to assert a custody right in their children.
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Things that may be given away but not sold are market-inalienable. In this Article, Professor Radin explores the significance of market-inalienability and its justifications. The author considers and rejects two archetypes that fail to recognize market-inalienability as a separate category of social interaction. One, universal commodification, holds that everything should in principle be subject to market transfer; the other, universal noncommodification, holds that the market should be abolished. Professor Radin also explores and ultimately rejects attempts based on economic analysis and liberal philosophical doctrines to justify particular distinctions between things that are and things that are not appropriately traded in markets. She then offers an alternative justification for market-inalienability that relates it to an ideal of human flourishing. This theory takes into account both the rhetoric in which we conceive of ourselves and our situation in nonideal circumstances. Professor Radin concludes by demonstrating how the theory might be applied to three contested market-inalienabilities: prostitution, baby-selling, and surrogate motherhood.
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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. 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. This book 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.
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...A commercial surrogate mother is anyone who is paid money to bear a child for other people and terminate her parental rights, so that the others may raise the child as exclusively their own. The growth of commercial surrogacy has raised with new urgency a class of concerns regarding the proper scope of the market. Some critics have objected to commercial surrogacy on the ground that it improperly treats children and women's reproductive capacities as commodities. The prospect of reducing children to consumer durables and women to baby factories surely inspires revulsion. But are there good reasons behind the revulsion? And is this an accurate description of what commercial surrogacy implies? This article offers a theory about what things are properly regarded as commodities which supports the claim that commercial surrogacy constitutes an unconscionable commodification of children and of women's reproductive capacities.
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This article defends Richard Titmuss's argument, and Peter Singer's sympathetic support for it, against orthodox philosophical criticism. The article specifies the sense in which a market in blood is "dehumanising" as having to do with a loss of "imagined community" or social "integration," and not with a loss of valued or "deeper" liberty. It separates two "domino arguments"--the "contamination of meaning" argument and the "erosion of motivation" argument--which support, in different but interrelated ways, the claim that a market in blood is "imperialistic." Concentrating on the first domino argument the article considers the view that monetary and non-monetary meanings of the same good can co-exist given the robustness of certain kinds of relationship and joint undertakings within which gifts can figure. It argues that societal relationships are vulnerable or permeable to the effects of the market in a way that those constitutive of the personal sphere are not. General, more broadly political questions remain unanswered but the core of Titmuss's original and challenging argument remains and can be presented in a defensible form.