Markets and Morals

Danilo Petranovich (Elm Institute) and Peter Wicks (Elm Institute)

July 18–July 30, 2016

Our economic life raises a number of important ethical questions: Are there moral limits on what may be bought and sold? What is the relationship between a thing’s price and its value? Is voluntary exchange always just? What effects do changes in a society’s economic organization have on that society’s moral culture, and what role does culture play in determining the success or failure of economic institutions? Does economic theory provide an illuminating account of rational choice and human welfare or does it obscure the significance of our choices? In addressing these and related questions we will examine selections from Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Stuart Mill, as well as a range of contemporary thinkers including Gary Becker, Alasdair MacIntyre, Deirdre McCloskey, Michael Sandel, and Debra Satz. The seminar is open to advanced undergraduates (including graduating seniors) and graduate students with interests in moral philosophy, politics, sociology, and economics.