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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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The idea of Moral Limits to Markets was started by the political philosopher called Michael Sandel. Michael Sandel has been able to write numerous books in the past, and currently, he wrote a book that seeks to answer the following questions; what are the moral limits of the marketplace? What Can't Money Buy? According to Sandel (2012), things have changed from having a market economy to a market society. Sandel is determined to show the moral cost of what happens when everything is sold in the market, and when goods can be sold. Economics experts have pointed out that the markets should be having limits for its operation. Two main moral concerns have risen from markets. To begin with, if markets are available everywhere, the people should be worrying more and more about the possibility of inequality. If money can buy everything, including proper health care, political influence, and education, then having money is very important. The second concern about market morality is that making some goods into commodities is capable of corrupting the same value of those goods, the norms of the market that can crowd out valuable non-market behaviors (Rössler 2015).

This essay examines moral limits to markets by making use of theories and evidence and providing relevant examples from current affairs.

Markets and Morality

 After crisis on the Wall Street, it has inevitably revived the nerve-ending notion that markets are capable of undermining morality. Currently, it seems that there is no coherent alternative to the idea of capitalism, and yet anti-market feelings are alive and well. Because no social system can survive for quite a long time without the moral basis, the issues that have been posted by anti-globalization are urgent, mostly during the current economic crisis. It is quite hard to deny some moral value to the market; it is morally better to have goods supplied via free labor as opposed to slaves, and people to allow in choosing their goods instead of having them chosen for them. Since the market system is quite efficient at creating wealth as well as satisfying wants as compared to any other system is a bonus. For instance, when considering character, more often than not it has always been claimed that capitalism can reward the qualities of self-restraint, thrift, innovativeness, and prudence. Alternatively, it has crowded out some of the virtues that lack economic utility like, honor, heroism, pity, and generosity. It is obvious that it is not fair to blame the market for bad moral choices. However, the market system depends on a given motive for action, and as Keynes posits or called it Love of Money that seems to be undermining traditional moral teaching (Satz 2010).  

The Paradox of Capitalism

The paradox of capitalism indicates that avarice, envy, and greed have been converted into virtues. It has been reported that capitalism discovers needs that people did not know they were having and therefore this moves the idea of humanity forward. But it is true to say that the market economy can be sustained through model of greed and also envy through advertising. The ideology of capitalism has been criticized for lacking the principle of justice. In a perfect competitive market, for instance, all of the factors of production receive rewards that are equal to their marginal products. This means that people should be getting the value for their money. On the other hand, in a monopoly market, the owners of the business have more information about the market than outsiders (Satz 2010).

The Question about Fairness in the Market

According to Sandel (2012), if money is the most important means for obtaining some goods, then the poor will be disadvantaged in the market in a systematic way. A case in point is that of childcare providers in Israel; most of the daycare centers in this country were having problems with those parents who were picking their kids past the closing time. Due to the fact arriving late had become a habit for parents to pick their kids from the childcare care centers, these care providers opted to fine for arriving past closing time. Since most of these parents could afford that extra fee, they could continuously arrive late to pick their kids. This is a clear demonstration that attaching a price to civic goods or absolute moral values can corrupt or diminish those goods. This was outrightly being unfair to these kids and those who were taking care of them in these centers (Satz 2008, October).

Money Cannot Buy Everything

Even though money is an important thing for human survival, but certainly money cannot guarantee everything in life. For instance, money cannot love or true friendship. It is also not morally correct to sell or buy children; even though some people have suggested the market for adopting children. However, there are some private sectors like profit-making schools, secret prisons, hospitals, outsourcing of the mercenaries and private security guards. As a way for comparing morality and market, there are instances when the rich people would be hiring poor people queue for them to obtain free tickets that are given out on a first come, first served basis. Even though money is the only way by which one can get goods or services that they desire, but it is important to consider: the need, merit, or better still the same sense of waiting for people's turn in the queue (Satz 2010).

 Some concerns ought to be addressed when it comes to money and morality. To begin with, it is immoral for one to pay so that he or she gets ahead of the rest of the line to access public facilities like airports. It is also imprudent for the rich people to buy a lane that is shared by a pool of other cars just to drive alone. It is also immoral for the rich people to pay others to get sterilizations. The other factor that is quite important to consider is that money should not be the determinant for who is supposed to get a kidney transplant and those who should not get. More often than not, money incentives crowd out or erode non-market motives. For example, giving money to people to stop smoking or lose weight is not morally correct, and it will tantamount to inducing people to do the right thing for the wrong motives. It is also important to remember that marketing a good or a service can change its meaning and corrupts minds and some norms that should be protected (Satz 2008, October).

Morality and Marketing Everything  

Two main dangers of marketing depend on the issues of fairness and the issues of corruption. There are instances when marketing some of the body parts like kidney could be affair business. However, there are situations that selling of kidney might not be out of willing seller, willing buyer basis. Poverty could pressure one to resort to things like selling a kidney just to get money. In that scenario where one is poor and therefore is forced to sell one of his or her kidneys to survive. An inequality that is there in terms of wealth interferes with the idea of bind fairness of the market. For example, if one can corrupt his or her way to the best university or pay lecturers to get a best honorary degree, this will jeopardize the idea of good university education. There are also some political leaders that have developed a tendency of bribing voters so that they can get elected; this is not morally right (Satz 2008, October).

Gift Giving During Events   

Most of the economists have always argued that gift giving is economically inefficient. For example, if an aunt buys for her nephew a doll that worth $100 as a gift, it would be more prudent if she gave money so that her nephew could buy anything of his choice. However, it has been argued that this is equivalent to being blind to the importance of gift. According to Sandle (2012), a gift is a sign of love and gifts are not all about utility but also resemble the moral of relationships. This explains why the popular study that was conducted by one Richard Titmus known as The Gift Relationship is quite illuminating. During the study, Titmus was able to compare the blood that is donated by the volunteers as compared to blood being bought from different blood banks. Selling of blood of seems not to be a fair and free exchange, but will be used to exploit the poor. Titmus further points out that by introducing money market to those people who volunteer to donate blood diffuses the idea of gift giving, uncalled for generosity, and it would lead to the decline in the spirit of altruism in a given sphere can re-bounce. As a matter of facts, most economists do not understand the logic of gift. Some economists do not understand the reasoning behind the idea of altruism (Satz 2008, October).

The Principle of Beneficence  

 For many years the actions and motives have always occupied the epicenter of morality. Some of the current examples that can be found in the social welfare programs, and scholarships for the meritorious and needy students, societal support for the research that is related to health, policies that are geared towards improving the welfare of animals, disaster relief, philanthropy, and the programs to benefit children and other vulnerable groups in the society. According to Tjeltveit (2006) beneficence entails actions such as being kind, merciful, and charity. More often than not the idea of beneficence indicates the principle of love altruism, promoting the welfare of others and humanity. In other words, the notion is quite wide but is understood better through the idea of ethical theory. The principle of beneficence explains the normative statement of a moral obligation to act for other's benefit.

The Principle of Beneficence Business Ethics   

Business is the second area ethics is applied directly and in which questions about beneficence are asked. Different scholars have pointed out that wealth of nations and the social welfare of its citizens depends on the social cooperation; political and economic cooperation, however, this does not depend on the benevolence of moral relationships. It has also been pointed out that it would be naïve for one to expect benevolence in different markets. In business transactions, the only strategy that has been successful in motivating other people is by appealing to personal advantage of these people. One should not expect benevolence from a brewer, butcher, or a mortician, what they only care about is their personal interests. Therefore it is important to remember that markets do not operate from the point of humanity and benevolence, but from the point of self-interest (Tjeltveit 2006).

Conclusion   

Even though markets are places where people make money, but they have got there are some moral limits that control transactions that are taking place in these markets. The idea of moral limits to markets has been discussed intensively one of the renowned authors on this topic called Michael Sandel. Economics experts have pointed out that the markets should be having limits for its operation. Two main moral concerns have risen from markets. Because the market system is quite efficient at creating wealth as well as satisfying wants as compared to any other system is a bonus.  Finally, it is also immoral for the rich people to pay others to get sterilizations. The other factor that is quite important to consider is that money should not be the determinant for who is supposed to get a kidney transplant and those who should not get.

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