How and to what extent does free-market philosophy influence moral norms (2)

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Read Michael J. Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy and write a 5-7 page argumentative philosophy essay on the nature of the relationship between markets and morals, answering the question: How and to what extent does free-market philosophy influence moral norms?

Take as a point of departure for your reflection Sandel’s thesis on page # 10 of the book that “without realizing it, without ever deciding to do so, we drifted from having a market economy to being a market society.” What exactly is the difference between having a market economy and being a market society? What are the consequences of the intrusion of the market economy into the realm of moral norms and values?


Business and consumer logic indeed reached all sides of contemporary social and political life, according to Sandel. In the past few decades, this has happened. In the book, Sandal points out that it is possible to use markets to distribute social goods or services, including public health, national security, education, protection of the environment, criminal justice, procreation, leisure. In the past few decades, these initiatives have not been available, but today people do not take them seriously. Sandal describes a market economy as a means of coordinating productive activity efficiently and marketable (Sandel, 2013).

This is an incredible difference, a market economy  is a situation in which an overall value-system manages people’s relationships in “society” and uses a market economy for economic ties. “The market” is not an independent mechanism but a subordinate system, managed by a mix of public and private managers. In theory, such managers will lead the economy in accordance with the social relationship value system. In the United States this value system is outlined in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, starting with the “self-evident truth,” which states: “All [people are equal.” The Declaration proceeds to affirm the nature of the “inevitable” rights of humanity and the government’s position to “protect those rights.”

Moreover, in the second chapter, he speaks differently about rewards/ incentives in a business venture. Sandel defines a market business as a situation in which market incentives, relationships, and values affect all aspects of life in a market company. The picture of the market establishes social relationships. Several people have changed in recent decades. They have now changed into a market society with and by the use of the market economy. Consumer culture is a condition in which everything is for sale. In an effort at drug safety, people will now make more money for a pharmaceutical firm to act as human guinea pigs. This allows the individual to earn 7,500 dollars (Ross, 2008).

In comparison, a market society represents the market forces which represent both the overall value system and the autonomous power to direct not only all economic functions but also all people’s relations. Free-market philosophy is an anarchistic fantasy, in which the market is the supreme force in law making all economic, political, institutional, and personal relations a final punishment. The role of government, faith, education, family, tradition is supplanted. It undermines the very definition of a proper public domain. It monetizes ever more of life inexorably. The sole value on which all the choices are based is evermore revenue.

The triumph of the market is over, argues Sandel, and the moment for moral assessment should have arrived. The reason the second thinking about market confidence is because the spectacular financial market collapse did not destroy the faith of the people (Coyle, 2011). There are a lot of questions in the book; the main question is can the individual survive in such a situation? But how people can work together as an organization to decide where markets best and vice versa to serve the public. Sandal says that a market economy is better than a market society in which all is for sale. He argues that unfairness and corruption will occur if we move towards a market society.

The second chapter addresses the reward measures. This is whether people pay for the best grades for their children (Sandel, 2013). Some schools in the US aim to improve their performance by paying children for good grades. The idea of money to rehabilitate what the schools in the USA are doing to increase the population and opportunities for improvement through the education reform campaign. Parents also pay their children for any ‘A’ that they have. The cash they provided to the students is an incentive but the children did not take it as an incentive; it was more an accomplishment for them. Financial rewards are viewed as a key to enhancing education for students in disadvantaged urban schools.

The money paid to the students yielded mixed results. For example, in New York City, the kid’s academic performance did not increase due to paying them for good test scores. In Chicago, the payment of cash for good grades led to an increase in attendance but did not bring any improvement on the standardized tests. Some people think that paying the kids is bribing them to perform well. The programs of the Advanced Placement Incentive have changed the cultures of schools and the achievement towards success. Despite how much money a person has, he or she cannot be able to buy a friendship (Satz, 2010). What he can do is buy the expressions of friendship and tokens which he can present to a friend. The same is why money cannot buy friendship when a person turns toast, gifts, and apologies into commodities. He or she diminishes them. If a friend is employed, he or she is not the original. People have developed standards, virtues, and behaviors that cannot be replaced by market values.

Some things can’t be bought with money, I agree with Sandel. This is because not all products are valued as profit-making instruments. For example, people should not be treated as commodities or goods that can be bought or sold by auction. This is because people cannot be adequately respected if handled in such away. People are worthy of dignity, respect, and no use as a means of profit or as objects such as slaves. Something of other treasured activities and products can also be listed in life. There is no right to buy and sell children on the market. Even if purchases are not misused by consumers, a market that permits purchases and sales promotes the wrong way to value children. Children should be seen as caring and loving human beings, not as consumer goods. Therefore, no commodity of any sort should be traded (Sandel, 2013).

Another case where money does not buy anything is when people are forbidden from selling their votesADDIN CSL_CITATION {“citationItems”:[{“id”:”ITEM-1″,”itemData”:{“DOI”:”10.1057/9781137472748.0007″,”ISBN”:”9781137472748″,”author”:[{“dropping-particle”:””,”family”:”Skidelsky”,”given”:”Edward”,”non-dropping-particle”:””,”parse-names”:false,”suffix”:””}],”container-title”:”Are Markets Moral?”,”id”:”ITEM-1″,”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2014″]]},”page”:”77-102″,”title”:”The moral limits of markets”,”type”:”chapter”},”uris”:[“″]}],”mendeley”:{“formattedCitation”:”(Skidelsky)”,”plainTextFormattedCitation”:”(Skidelsky)”,”previouslyFormattedCitation”:”(Skidelsky)”},”properties”:{“noteIndex”:0},”schema”:””}(Skidelsky). This is because civic duties should be treated as public obligations and not considered as private property. If the civic duties owed by each citizen are excluded, that means that they are reduced and misappreciated. Democracy by the citizens can be seen as the people’s law. Every person is therefore entitled to choose a leader of his preference by voting. According to this book by Michael Sandel, the need and role of money and markets for our societies should be addressed in a very robust way. The discussion will be difficult because it will take the public to address this; social practices from a perspective of the true value of commodities. This discussion goes from child procreation to education, the environment, and health. People also fear to speak to the media about these topics. If a public discussion takes place that is ethically involved in the role of money and markets within society, we can hold the markets in place (B & Morton, 2007).

How and to what extent does free-market philosophy influence moral norms? When markets are no longer inert, the issue is intensified. Commodification produces greater disparity and a better chance of exploitation by not just selling commodities, but also shifting attitudes towards some kind of goodsADDIN CSL_CITATION {“citationItems”:[{“id”:”ITEM-1″,”itemData”:{“DOI”:”10.1111/1468-0386.00019″,”ISSN”:”1351-5993″,”abstract”:”This article takes as its starting-point the relationship between Article 30 of 30 of the EC Treaty (general rule on the free movement of goods) and the European Constitution. On the one hand, it examines Article 30 in the context of the constitutional dilemmas facing the European Union, particularly the balance of powers to be defined between Member States and the Union, between public power and the market, and between the legitimacy of Community law vis à vis that of national law. On the other hand, it reviews different conceptions of the European Economic Constitution by analysing the role of Article 30 in the review of market regulation. © Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1997.”,”author”:[{“dropping-particle”:””,”family”:”Maduro”,”given”:”Miguel Poiares”,”non-dropping-particle”:””,”parse-names”:false,”suffix”:””}],”container-title”:”European Law Journal”,”id”:”ITEM-1″,”issue”:”1″,”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“1997″,”3″,”1″]]},”page”:”55-82″,”publisher”:”John Wiley & Sons, Ltd”,”title”:”Reforming the Market or the State? Article 30 and the European Constitution: Economic Freedom and Political Rights”,”type”:”article-journal”,”volume”:”3″},”uris”:[“”]}],”mendeley”:{“formattedCitation”:”(Maduro)”,”plainTextFormattedCitation”:”(Maduro)”,”previouslyFormattedCitation”:”(Maduro)”},”properties”:{“noteIndex”:0},”schema”:””}(Maduro). The book says that when social goods markets are not any longer inert, some of the good things in life are compromised and its moral worth is weakened and ordinary society is threatened. This in itself, poses the need to analyze these products closely and try, without striping them of moral or political importance, to find new ways of value them. We agree that municipal responsibilities cannot be regarded as private property and that monetary value cannot, therefore, be granted. Where commodification exists, more injustice and corruption are very likely to occur and this, in turn, endangers the stability of a functioning societyADDIN CSL_CITATION {“citationItems”:[{“id”:”ITEM-1″,”itemData”:{“DOI”:”10.1111/j.1540-6520.2008.00260.x”,”ISSN”:”10422587″,”abstract”:”Using institutional theory, the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal 2003 Index of Economic Freedom, and the 2002 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, we regress opportunity-motivated entrepreneurial activity (OME) and necessity-motivated entrepreneurial activity (NME) on 10 factors of economic freedom and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita for 37 nations. We find that both OME and NME are negatively associated with GDP per capita and positively associated with labor freedom, but that various other factors of economic freedom are uniquely related to either OME or NME. Specifically, we find that OME, but not NME, is positively associated with property rights, while NME, but not OME, is positively associated with fiscal freedom and monetary freedom. Thus, governmental restrictions of economic freedom appear to impact entrepreneurial activity differently depending on the particular freedom restricted by government and the entrepreneur’s motive for engaging in entrepreneurial action. © 2008 Baylor University.”,”author”:[{“dropping-particle”:””,”family”:”Mcmullen”,”given”:”Jeffery S.”,”non-dropping-particle”:””,”parse-names”:false,”suffix”:””},{“dropping-particle”:””,”family”:”Bagby”,”given”:”D. Ray”,”non-dropping-particle”:””,”parse-names”:false,”suffix”:””},{“dropping-particle”:””,”family”:”Palich”,”given”:”Leslie E.”,”non-dropping-particle”:””,”parse-names”:false,”suffix”:””}],”container-title”:”Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice”,”id”:”ITEM-1″,”issue”:”5″,”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2008″]]},”page”:”875-895″,”title”:”Economic freedom and the motivation to engage in entrepreneurial action”,”type”:”article-journal”,”volume”:”32″},”uris”:[“″]}],”mendeley”:{“formattedCitation”:”(Mcmullen et al.)”,”plainTextFormattedCitation”:”(Mcmullen et al.)”,”previouslyFormattedCitation”:”(Mcmullen et al.)”},”properties”:{“noteIndex”:0},”schema”:””}(Mcmullen et al.).

Sandel’s book primarily claims that economics is about morality. He believes that the more markets expand to non-economic areas of life, the closer they are to morality questions. Thus as market thinking moves outside the realm of the goods, so must morality, unless it blindly intends to maximize social utility without considering the moral significance of its preferences. In such a moral sense, the standard price effect is not valuable. If you cannot afford the services mentioned in the book, Sandel describes new ways to make money. You can rent space in your body to be used for a major pharmaceutical corporation as a human guinea pig, or work for a leading company that doesn’t have enough time but who want to engage in free concerts or listen to the Pope. In Texas schools even young children are paid $2 to read a book; obese children are paid to lose weight in a targeted time frame. You can also try to benefit by buying an elderly person’s life insurance policy. In this case, the premium will be charged while the person is alive and the death benefit is collected. While a life insurance policy aimed to protect the members of the family, if anyone died earlier, the investor benefits moreADDIN CSL_CITATION {“citationItems”:[{“id”:”ITEM-1″,”itemData”:{“author”:[{“dropping-particle”:””,”family”:”Satz”,”given”:”Debra”,”non-dropping-particle”:””,”parse-names”:false,”suffix”:””}],”id”:”ITEM-1″,”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2007″]]},”title”:”LIBERALISM, ECONOMIC FREEDOM, AND THE LIMITS OF MARKETS*”,”type”:”report”},”uris”:[“″]}],”mendeley”:{“formattedCitation”:”(Satz)”,”plainTextFormattedCitation”:”(Satz)”,”previouslyFormattedCitation”:”(Satz)”},”properties”:{“noteIndex”:0},”schema”:””}(Satz).

Life insurance is also an example of how consumer values can alter the essence of a business. Michael Sandel writes how this idea has been taken a step forward by Walmart (the largest retail business in the world). He protected the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers and Walmart benefited every time someone died instead of the deceased’s kin. It seems that in this modern commercial society no service or good can’t be bought. The list of what money cannot be purchased is very brief – for instance, friendship, a Noble Prize or an Olympic Prize, even though some medals were won the honor of being awarded the prize cannot be soldADDIN CSL_CITATION {“citationItems”:[{“id”:”ITEM-1″,”itemData”:{“DOI”:”10.1080/13563467.2012.647764″,”ISSN”:”13563467″,”author”:[{“dropping-particle”:””,”family”:”Anderson”,”given”:”Elizabeth”,”non-dropping-particle”:””,”parse-names”:false,”suffix”:””}],”container-title”:”New Political Economy”,”id”:”ITEM-1″,”issue”:”2″,”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2012″]]},”page”:”239-242″,”title”:”Why Some Things Should Not be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets: Debra Satz”,”type”:”article”,”volume”:”17″},”uris”:[“″]}],”mendeley”:{“formattedCitation”:”(Anderson)”,”plainTextFormattedCitation”:”(Anderson)”,”previouslyFormattedCitation”:”(Anderson)”},”properties”:{“noteIndex”:0},”schema”:””}(Anderson).

Sandel believes that the laws of markets overshadow the moral of the society in his very detailed and actual novel. All right, and what then? The author discusses certain facts but never really offers an idea of how these problems can be overcome. He just describes the need to find a way to improve our morals and that a (political?) public dialogue can define the ideals we want in our culture to change the actions of people. Bishop Peter Selby pointed out a strong counterpoint to this subject by explaining that the book in Sandel could mislead people to believe that changing ideas will change our behaviors when it will change our actions. To shift, the behavior must stop so that values are affectedADDIN CSL_CITATION {“citationItems”:[{“id”:”ITEM-1″,”itemData”:{“DOI”:”10.1177/0094306112468721f”,”ISBN”:”9781400838110″,”ISSN”:”0094-3061″,”abstract”:”The world’s leading economies are facing not just one but many crises. The financial meltdown may not be over, climate change threatens major global disruption, economic inequality has reached extremes not seen for a century, and government and business are widely distrusted. At the same time, many people regret the consumerism and social corrosion of modern life. What these crises have in common, Diane Coyle argues, is a reckless disregard for the future–especially in the way the economy is run. How can we achieve the financial growth we need today without sacrificing a decent future for our children, our societies, and our planet? How can we realize what Coyle calls “the Economics of Enough””? Running the economy for tomorrow as well as today will require a wide range of policy changes. The top priority must be ensuring that we get a true picture of long-term economic prospects

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