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Economics and the VirtuesBuilding a New Moral Foundation$
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Jennifer A. Baker and Mark D. White

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198701392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198701392.001.0001

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Do Markets Corrupt?

Do Markets Corrupt?

Chapter:
(p.236) Chapter 12 Do Markets Corrupt?
Source:
Economics and the Virtues
Author(s):

Jason Brennan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198701392.003.0013

Many worry that, while market society is highly productive and tends to promote well-being, the emphasis on profit and impersonal exchange, as well as the push to commodify various goods and services, might corrupt our character. This chapter examines, and finds wanting, two common versions of this objection to markets. The selfishness objection holds that markets tend to make us more selfish, while the civics objection holds that markets tend to reduce civic virtue and political participation. This chapter argues that the empirical evidence shows that markets tend to make us more generous, trusting, and trustworthy, rather than less, and do not measurably reduce political participation. Further, it argues that the civics objection rests upon an overly narrow conception of civic virtue.

Keywords:   commodification, civic virtue, political participation, Benjamin Barber, G.A. Cohen, Michael Sandel, trust, generosity, tolerance

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