Against Market Insularity: Market, Responsibility, and Law
21 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2017 Last revised: 8 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 7, 2017
In this paper, I take stock of some leading attempts to drive a wedge between distinctively market reasoning and practical (including moral) reasoning. Although these attempts focus on different normative foundations — the epistemology of market interaction, the autonomy of its participants, the stability-enhancing quality of markets, and the authority of democratic decision-making — they are of a piece insofar as they seek to trivialize the role of private responsibility for realizing the demands of morality and justice. Essentially, they seek to insulate, at least to an important extent, the market practice of doing well from the demands of doing right. I argue that they each fail, and that their respective failures motivate the pursuit of a more successful conception of the interaction between markets and morality. I argue that the key to developing this conception is law and, in particular, the legal forms of interaction that lie at the center of economic markets. Rather than merely facilitating any number of desirable goals, these legal forms construct the moral landscape within which market participants act. This observation opens the door for a better account of the ineliminable place of moral responsibility in and around the market.
Keywords: markets, responsibility, law, morality, contract, property, recognition, impersonality
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