Markets. Scott Carney's book The Red Market is one of the most interesting things I read (and blogged about) last year. It's about the international market in hair, blood, kidneys, eggs, sperm, wombs ... and children. Carney confines himself mostly to reporting the facts about these strange markets, but you get a strong sense that he thinks there's something fundamentally wrong with them all. This makes a terrific philosophy puzzle. Find the problem with these kinds of markets. What exactly is it?
Some will say it's problematic when you have an intuition first, and then look for a way to justify it. Jonathan Haidt says (see "The Emotional Dog and it's Rational Tail" here) you're bound to be just confabulating--making up some rationale for attitudes you're going to stick with come what may. Fair enough, if you really are dead-set on validating your intuitions, no matter what further reflection and fact-gathering turns up. I would not say I'm not dead-set. In fact, my views on some of those markets have changed somewhat over time.
Anyhow, after reading The Red Market you really need books to help you think about the ethics of these markets, and I'm amazed by how many have come out recently. Right now I'm reading Debra Satz's book What Some things Should Not be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets. Next on my list will be Michael Sandel's new book What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets. Then, if any appetite for the topic remains, I might look at Arlie Hochschild's new book The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times. After that (phew!), maybe Free Market Fairness, by John Tomasi.
Next question: why so many books about strange markets? That's curious ....
I've always found Sandel's arguments to be a little too intuition based for my liking. His "argument against perfection" being probably the best example of that. So I'm hesitant to buy more of his work.
Yes, not enough philosophical heft, but I find him interesting anyway. He's a good observer of the human scene--no doubt there will a hundred terrific examples in there, but not enough argument.
This question touches on my work in an interesting way. One way to read the work of copyleftists like, e.g. Laurence Lessig, is to see them as arguing for limits on corporate control of "culture." So to take the recent controversial example, the SOPA bill was a legislative overreach that would have, to borrow a phrase from Habermas, resulted in excessive "colonization of the lifeworld" by "the system" of technocratic rule.
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