May 7, 2013

The Impartial Spectator and the Moral Teachings of Markets

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Market skeptics have persuasively argued that the market is a social arena that is not simply amoral but that has negative moral consequences. Market apologists have offered two basic responses to this kind of charge: that the market is amoral and that it transforms private vice into public virtue. This chapter, however, directly discusses the moral teachings of the market i.e. the moral sentiments individuals are likely to acquire and develop as they engage in the market. Rather than celebrating selfishness and greed, I argue that the market tends to punish both vices. The market is a moral teacher.