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


  • Satz, Debra

    (Stanford University)


What's wrong with markets in everything? Markets today are widely recognized as the most efficient way in general to organize production and distribution in a complex economy. And with the collapse of communism and rise of globalization, it's no surprise that markets and the political theories supporting them have seen a considerable resurgence. For many, markets are an all-purpose remedy for the deadening effects of bureaucracy and state control. But what about those markets we might label noxious-markets in addictive drugs, say, or in sex, weapons, child labor, or human organs? Such markets arouse widespread discomfort and often revulsion. In Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale, philosopher Debra Satz takes a penetrating look at those commodity exchanges that strike most of us as problematic. What considerations, she asks, ought to guide the debates about such markets? What is it about a market involving prostitution or the sale of kidneys that makes it morally objectionable? How is a market in weapons or pollution different than a market in soybeans or automobiles? Are laws and social policies banning the more noxious markets necessarily the best responses to them? Satz contends that categories previously used by philosophers and economists are of limited utility in addressing such questions because they have assumed markets to be homogenous. Accordingly, she offers a broader and more nuanced view of markets-one that goes beyond the usual discussions of efficiency and distributional equality--to show how markets shape our culture, foster or thwart human development, and create and support structures of power. An accessibly written work that will engage not only philosophers but also political scientists, economists, legal scholars, and public policy experts, this book is a significant contribution to ongoing discussions about the place of markets in a democratic society. Available in OSO:

Suggested Citation

  • Satz, Debra, 2010. "Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195311594.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780195311594

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gordon,Robert J., 2004. "Productivity Growth, Inflation, and Unemployment," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521531429, March.
    2. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2001. "Information Technology and the U.S. Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 1-32, March.
    3. Gordon,Robert J., 2004. "Productivity Growth, Inflation, and Unemployment," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521800082, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Claudio Balestri, 2016. "On the Inefficiency of Political Exchange," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 167-178, June.
    2. Francesca Bettio & Marina Della Giusta & Maria Laura Di Tommaso & Sarah Jewell, 2016. "Stigmatising Prostitution: Some Evidence from the UK," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2016-13, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    3. Nicola Lacetera, 2016. "Incentives and Ethics in the Economics of Body Parts," NBER Working Papers 22673, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Casella, Alessandra & Turban, Sébastien, 2014. "Democracy undone. Systematic minority advantage in competitive vote markets," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 47-70.
    5. Allison, E.H., 2011. "Aquaculture, fisheries, poverty and food security," Working Papers, The WorldFish Center, number 39575, September.
    6. Jukka Mäkinen & Eero Kasanen, 2016. "Boundaries Between Business and Politics: A Study on the Division of Moral Labor," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 134(1), pages 103-116, March.
    7. Thomas Deckers & Armin Falk & Fabian Kosse & Nora Szech, 2016. "Homo Moralis: Personal Characteristics, Institutions, and Moral Decision-Making," CESifo Working Paper Series 5800, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Beckert, Jens & Wehinger, Frank, 2011. "In the shadow illegal markets and economic sociology," MPIfG Discussion Paper 11/9, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    9. Werner Gueth & Hartmut Kliemt, 2013. "Fairness That Money Can Buy. Procedural Egalitarianism in Practice," Rationality, Markets and Morals, Frankfurt School Verlag, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, vol. 4(65), May.
    10. Beckert, Jens, 2011. "Die Sittlichkeit der Wirtschaft: Von Effizienz- und Differenzierungstheorien zu einer Theorie wirtschaftlicher Felder," MPIfG Working Paper 11/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    11. Herrera Jiménez, Alejandro & Villegas Quino, Horacio, 2016. "Circumstances and Determination of Individual Outcomes in Bolivia: Family Background and Equality of Opportunities (2003-2013)," Documentos de trabajo 1/2016, Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas (IISEC), Universidad Católica Boliviana.
    12. Björn Bartling & Yagiz Özdemir, 2017. "The Limits to Moral Erosion in Markets: Social Norms and the Replacement Excuse," CESifo Working Paper Series 6696, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Risse, Mathias & Wollner, Gabriel, 2014. "Three Images of Trade: On the Place of Trade in a Theory of Global Justice," Working Paper Series rwp14-011, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    14. Sandro Ambuehl, 2017. "An Offer You Can't Refuse? Incentives Change How We Inform Ourselves and What We Believe," CESifo Working Paper Series 6296, CESifo Group Munich.
    15. repec:hrv:faseco:30829771 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. repec:kap:jbuset:v:146:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3218-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. repec:oup:oxford:v:33:y:2017:i:4:p:705-720. is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Yew-Kwang NG, 2016. "Extending Economic Analysis to Analyze Policy Issues More Broadly," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 1609, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
    19. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Markets, Morality, and Economic Growth: Competition Affects Utilitarian Judgment," IAST Working Papers 16-45, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    20. Shengwu Li, 2017. "Ethics and market design," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 705-720.
    21. Björn Bartling & Yagiz Özdemir, 2017. "The limits to moral erosion in markets: social norms and the replacement excuse," ECON - Working Papers 263, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    22. Neuteleers, Stijn & Engelen, Bart, 2015. "Talking money: How market-based valuation can undermine environmental protection," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 253-260.
    23. Katharina Huesmann & Achim Wambach, 2015. "Constraints on Matching Markets Based on Moral Concerns," CESifo Working Paper Series 5356, CESifo Group Munich.
    24. Akyel, Dominic, 2014. "Ökonomisierung und moralischer Wandel: Die Ausweitung von Marktbeziehungen als Prozess der moralischen Bewertung von Gütern," MPIfG Discussion Paper 14/13, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.

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