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Invaluable Goods

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  • Kenneth J. Arrow

Abstract

Margaret Jane Radin's new book, Contested Commodities, is reviewed. The book's thesis is that some activities are too close to the intrinsic identity of persons to be proper subjects of the market and that discourse which treats all such activities as commodities can itself create harm. She therefore argues for a concept of "incomplete commodification." The review first locates Radin's thesis as part of a long tradition. Second, it notes that a state-based or legal determination of which goods are so deeply personal is certainly not clearly superior to self-determination in the context of a market. Third, it argues that the effect of discourse on behavior is not empirically clear and that acting on the view that discourse can threaten deep values can lead to limits on freedom.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth J. Arrow, 1997. "Invaluable Goods," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 757-765, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:35:y:1997:i:2:p:757-765
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    Cited by:

    1. Nancy Folbre & Julie A. Nelson, 2000. "For Love or Money--Or Both?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 123-140, Fall.
    2. Carlos Esteban Posada, 1998. "Los mercados de instituciones y las instituciones endogenas," Lecturas de Economía, Universidad de Antioquia, Departamento de Economía, issue 48, pages 149-168, Enero Jun.
    3. Zafirovski, Milan, 1999. "A socio-economic approach to market transactions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 309-334.
    4. Michael Anyadike-Danes & Helena Lenihan & Mike Hart, 2009. "New Business Formation: An Important Element of Ireland's Rapid Growth Experience?," Working Papers wp380, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    5. Munda, Giuseppe, 2009. "A conflict analysis approach for illuminating distributional issues in sustainability policy," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 194(1), pages 307-322, April.
    6. Múñoz, Féliz-Fernando & Encinar, María-Isabel & Cañibano, Carolina, 2016. "Agents, interaction, and economic laws: An analytical framework for understanding different economic theories," Working Papers in Economic Theory 2016/05, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    7. Smale, Melinda & Diakité, Lamissa & Dembélé, Brahima & Traoré, Issa Seni & Guindo, Oumar & Konta, Bouréma, 2008. "Trading millet and sorghum genetic resources women vendors in the village fairs of San and Souentza, Mali:," IFPRI discussion papers 746, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Zafirovski, Milan, 1998. "Socio-economics and rational choice theory: Specification of their relations," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 165-205.
    9. Giuseppe Munda, 2012. "Beyond GDP: Methodological and measurement issues in redefining “wealth”," UHE Working papers 2012_09, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica.
    10. Bruno S. Frey, 2005. "Knight Fever – Towards an Economics of Awards," CESifo Working Paper Series 1468, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Alberto Porto & Natalia Porto, 2000. "Fiscal Decentralization and Voters' Choices as Control," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 3, pages 135-167, May.
    12. Alkire, Sabina, 2002. "Dimensions of Human Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 181-205, February.
    13. van de Klundert, T.C.M.J. & van de Ven, J., 1999. "On the Viability of Gift Exchange in a Market Environment," Discussion Paper 1999-113, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    14. Bruno S. Frey, "undated". "Knight Fever towards an Economics of Awards," IEW - Working Papers 239, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    15. Khalil, Elias L., 1999. "Sentimental fools: a critique of Amartya Sen's notion of commitment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 373-386, December.
    16. Gowdy, John M. & Mayumi, Kozo, 2001. "Reformulating the foundations of consumer choice theory and environmental valuation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 223-237, November.
    17. Neuteleers, Stijn & Engelen, Bart, 2015. "Talking money: How market-based valuation can undermine environmental protection," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 253-260.
    18. Huseyin Leblebici, 2000. "Allocation of Rights and the Organization of Transactions: Elements of a Generative Approach to Organizing," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 4(1), pages 149-168, March.

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