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If You Can Reply for Money, You Can Reply for Free

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If You Can Reply for Money, You Can Reply for Free
Jason Brennan
Peter M. Jaworski
Published online: 1 November 2017
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017
We are honored that Markets without Limits is the subject of a symposium.
to Jasmine Carter, Jeffrey Moriary, Michael Munger, Jeppe von Platz, and Mark
Wells for their thoughtful commentary and critiques. Here we’ll briefly respond to
each paper.
1 Our General Strategy
The thesis of Markets without Limits is that if it’s permissible to do something for
free, then it’s permissible to do it for money. We have some more precise ways of
stating the thesis, but that’s the slogan form.
We make some qualifications to clarify this thesis. We acknowledge that there
are what we call incidental limits. For instance, if we promise to give away a guitar
for free, then we can no longer sell that guitar for money without breaking the
promise. But this doesn’t show that guitars are not the kinds of things that can be
bought and sold.
Our argument in Markets without Limits is largely negative. By default, we
presume that mutually beneficial, voluntary trades should be permissible unless we
can find a good reason to conclude otherwise. We note that there are a range of
objections to markets in different goods and services. We respond by making three
major moves:
&Jason Brennan
Georgetown University, Washington D.C, USA
Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski, Markets without Limits (New York: Routledge Press, 2015); see also
Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski, ‘‘Markets without Symbolic Limits,’Ethics 125 (2015): 1055–1073.
J Value Inquiry (2017) 51:655–661
DOI 10.1007/s10790-017-9616-7
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Full-text available
In a recent article in this journal, David Rondel argues that symbolic (or semiotic) objections to markets hold significant argumentative force. Rondel distinguishes between Incidental markets and Pervasive markets, where Incidental markets describe individual instances of exchange and Pervasive markets comprise the social management of goods by an institutional market arrangement. In this reply, I specify a key insight that buttresses Rondel’s distinction. The distinction as it is currently characterized fails to identify when Incidental markets become Pervasive. This opaqueness allows scholars that defend markets without limits to question the analytical distinctiveness of Incidental and Pervasive markets. I show that by incorporating the market’s price mechanism as an indicator of a properly Pervasive market, Rondel’s distinction is not only able to tackle the aforementioned retort, but also allows for important reflections on what types of institutions should be considered markets at all.
Full-text available
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.
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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