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Markets without Limits: Moral Virtues and Commercial Interests

5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415737357
ISBN-10: 0415737354
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An inherently absorbing and innately fascinating read from beginning to end..."

- Midwest Book Review

"Brennan and Jaworski make an effort to unravel the often unstructured and emotional objections of anti-commodification theorists in order to make them accessible for a rational discussion. They convincingly push forward the point that in many respects opponents of markets simply lack the empirical evidence for the claims they are making... Brennan and Jaworski's writing is pleasantly clear and their humor makes the book an entertaining read."
 
- Ethical Theory and Moral Practice


"[Markets without Limits is a] tour de force of philosophical argument that leaves the opponents' camp routed and the ground strewn with gauntlets thrown down in challenge... it will be a long time before we see another book that so wonderfully blends philosophy with public policy as Markets without Limits."

- Regulation, Cato Institute


"Giving away morally significant goods and services is fine, even noble, but selling them is wrong. Jason Brennan and Peter M. Jaworski's book is a welcome challenge to this view."

- Notre Dame Philosophical Review

"There are many books on the morality of commerce and market commoditization, but this one is better than the others. It is better argued, penetrates into the issues more deeply, and most of all it is right."

Tyler Cowen, George Mason University, USA

"What I found remarkable is their effort to consider, and answer, objections in a way that recognizes that many of the objections have considerable merit, at least on their own terms. But the answers are still persuasive. An indispensable volume for those interested in applied philosophy and policy."

Michael C. Munger, Duke University, USA

"Brennan and Jaworski have produced the best and most straightforward critique of the 'commodification' critics and should be on every social science and humanities professor shelf."

Peter Boettke, George Mason University, USA

About the Author

Jason Brennan is Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and, by courtesy, Associate Professor of Philosophy. He is the author of Why Not Capitalism? (Routledge, 2014), Compulsory Voting: For and Against, with Lisa Hill (2014), Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know (2012), The Ethics of Voting (2011), and A Brief History of Liberty, with David Schmidtz (2010).

Peter Jaworski is Assistant Teaching Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Prior to joining the faculty at Georgetown, Peter was Visiting Research Professor at Brown University’s Political Theory Project. He is a senior fellow with the Canadian Constitution Foundation and serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Liberal Studies.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (August 29, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415737354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415737357
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Kevin Currie-Knight VINE VOICE on September 8, 2015
Format: Paperback
Philosophy Professors Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski have a seemingly simple task in this book: to convince you that if it is not wrong to do a thing voluntarily, it cannot be wrong to sell the thing. In other words, the introduction of a money transaction into the equation cannot itself make a thing wrong. If it is morally wrong when it is bought and sold, it must be morally wrong for some other reason than that it is bought or sold.

But this is not so simple a task. Philosophers like Michael Sandel (and his bestseller, What Money Can't Buy), Deborah Satz (Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale) and others have argued that there are times when it is wrong to buy or sell a thing even if the thing isn't immoral itself. So, donating your kidney may be okay, but selling it is not. Standing in line for tickets to the free Shakespeare in the Park play is fine, but buying the services of someone to stand in line for you (or selling your ticket after you get it) is not.

With the skill of philosophical surgeons (and some very clear and engaging prose), Brennan and Jaworski dissect these arguments and find them wanting. They tackle several different kinds of objections. Some argue that markets are inherently corrupting (evidence shows this to be dubious). Others argue that markets introduce exploitation into the equation (which evidence again gives lie to, but even if they did, we can introduce regulations that will guard against exploitation).
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Markets Without Limits is a clear philosophical defense of the claim that there are no inherent limits to markets. What the authors Brennan and Jaworski (B&J) mean by this is that “if you may do it for free, then you may do it for money” (10). So, if you may possess water for free, you may also sell it. If you may have sex without paying for it, you may also buy it. Additionally, since you may not possess child pornography, you may not sell or buy it either. Since you may not murder for free, you may not murder for a price. These are not limits on the markets per se. They are limits on human behavior irrespective of markets.

The book is clear in two important ways. First, stylistically, it is written in a straightforward way. The chapters are relatively short: making them more focused and to the point. There is little in the way of jargon – and they make an effort to define carefully unavoidable technical verbiage.

Second, they make great effort to make sure that the arguments they are criticizing or advancing are presented as clearly and as logically as possible. I found myself frequently raising a concern or possible objection in the margins only to have that concern or objection discussed in the next paragraph or section. It got a little eerie at times—as if they were reading my mind!

They do a great job of presenting the anti-commodification arguments clearly and fairly. In fact, I think they do a better job of making the anti-commodification case than most of the anti-commodification theorists themselves. Their broad topology of the different criticisms helps to clarify and focus the arguments for these points and their criticisms.
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Brennan and Jaworski have written a remarkably rigorous book defending the thesis "If you may do it for free, you may do it for money." In it, they attack the underlying revulsion and biases against markets held by critics. The authors clarify the debate (hint: it's not about business ethics and it's not about regulation), rooting out fallacies and red herrings to get down to the actual claims of anti-commodification critics. Yet, what makes the book both powerful and useful is the clear, concise, and fair manner in which they describe their opponents' arguments. Multiple angles are addressed and core critical arguments are broken down, making the authors' logic and position all the more compelling and--after the irrelevant debris mentioned above is cleared away--somewhat obvious. Bolstering the authors' arguments is an immense amount of relevant social science. Whenever empirical claims are made (by either Brennan and Jaworski or market critics), evidence from studies in psychology, sociology, economics, and anthropology is presented and explained. Finally, the book provides a possible way in which to influence both liberals and conservatives to embrace policies that lead to more economic freedom.

Should be read by both friends and foes of the market.
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