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The Price is Wrong: Causes and Consequences of Ethical Restraint of Trade

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  • Leonard Thomas C.

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

Critics of commodification object to sales but not gifts of some goods, such as human blood or human organs, on grounds that such trade wrongly coerces, morally corrupts, and crowds out altruism. This essay takes issues with each of these claims. It disputes Micheal Sandel’s claim that voluntary exchange coerces, arguing that he confuses what is unfair with what is unfree. It argues, where trade does create moral costs, that these costs should be weighed against the moral costs of trade bans, such as the loss of human life, and the harms endemic to illegal markets. The essay also quarrels with Richard Titmuss’s The Gift Relationship, arguing that compensation for blood need not crowd out blood donation, that compensation does not preclude a charitable impulse, and that some important gift relationship (e.g., philanthropy) posses elements of altruism and exchange.Ceux qui critiquent la marchandisation sont contre la vente mais pas contre le don de certains biens comme le sang ou les organes humains parce qu’un tel commerce exercerait une contrainte, corromprait morallement, et ne laisserait pas de place à l’altruisme. Ce papier traite de chacune de ces affirmations. Il consteste l’affirmation de Micheal Sandel selon laquelle l’échange volontaire exerce une contrainte, en suggérant qu’il confond ce qui injuste avec ce qui n’est pas libre. Si le commerce entraîne des coûts moraux, cet essai suggère que ces coûts devraient être comparés avec les coûts moraux associés aux interdictions de commerce tels que la perte de la vie humaine et ceux associés aux maux endémiques des marchés illégaux. Il critique aussi l’ouvrage de Richard Titmuss, “The Gift Relationship” en suggérant que les compensations monétaires en échange d’un don de sang n’évincent pas nécessairement le don de sang, qu’elles n’empêchent pas les impulsions charitables, et que d’importants actes de don (ex: philantropie) comportent des éléments d’altruisme et d’échange.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

Volume (Year): 14 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (December)
Pages: 1-20

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:14:y:2004:i:2:n:8

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Web page: http://www.degruyter.com

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Cited by:
  1. Alvin E. Roth, 2006. "Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000629, UCLA Department of Economics.

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