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Michael Sandel on Markets and Morals

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aaronrockies Avatar
Posted: 06.09.11, 06:50 PM
Political philosopher Michael Sandel weighs the ethics of using free market principles to solve America's immigration problem. He analyzes Gary Becker's proposal to solve the immigration debate by asking if "the US should simply set a price and sell American citizenship."
yech Avatar
Posted: 11.24.10, 10:02 PM
section added
part 8: What the heck! People, No One mentioned this? Suppose you pay some country some money to take in refugees, and then its the coutry that they were being persecuted in?!?!?!?! Seriously, people in the audience, Im trying to calmly state this, but what I really want to say is, outrage! Ok, lets suppose we put in a caveat, dont do that: In that case, consider this, refugees are indiscriminately moved, yes? So it doesnt follow that a group will be uniform in that the country they need to avoid is the same for the whole group, a person is shuffled in with a group of refugees from, russia we will say, is hustled in to a plane, maybe they dont speak the language the people who are transporting them do, so they are just motioned, led to get on the plane, and told to go, and they dunno whats going on until they get there, and then they have to get someone sympathetic to them to get them out of dodge before trouble, (ever had someone not particularily intereted in thier job not pay attention to you? ever dealt with similar problems in the extreme). Ok, calmly, I bring up this point. I apologize that I wasnt calm
scamper Avatar
Posted: 10.10.09, 01:40 AM
It isn't hard to find flaws in any system. The question is what is the alternative? It is easy to talk about the higher goal of education or healthcare... yet, how does that translate in reality when governed by 'non-market' forces? Teacher unions rob society with excessive gain refusing to do what is best for their students. Healthcare workers and doctors earn large sums of money. A free society... and hence once that allows markets... is the best alternative. I don't see centrally planned systems helping as those planning the system will use it to their own benefit and not for the benefit of the 'greater goal'. Strangely, if you actually think of it, it is the reason we got rid of church of state. In some ideal fantasy world, we as a society can be government by higher values (belief in god). In reality, when people are actually put in charge to have those values, you get corruption order of magnitude worse than a free society. -oppression against women -molesting children -suppressing science -wars -hatred of other religions ... There is nothing wrong with religion. But there is everything wrong with putting people in government with the goal of religion. Similarly, healthcare or education is great. But there is everything wrong putting people in government with that goal... as they will corrupt that goal. So while, we can entertain these moral questions, I don't see any viable alternative. Regulate, when needed, especially to make sure people voluntarily do things (surrogacy, prostitution...), but beyond that, a free society simply works best... not to mention the moral imperative of letting consenting parties do their thing.
lmr Avatar
Posted: 09.30.09, 12:10 PM
I live in Japan. Yep, and they send a police officer to check if the parking space actually exists. Neighbors fall out over parking and I have seen people nearly get into physical confrontations.
lmr Avatar
Posted: 09.30.09, 12:05 PM
I agree with you. I would also go further and say that if such a system were implemented, it would probably INCREASE human trafficking. Of course there are a lot of details, but I can imagine a scenario where families get loan sharked to get an individual who has promise to a wealthy country. With a jacked up interest rate, the whole family will be transformed into virtual slaves. As for illegal immigration, in a really desperate case, I would go illegally, try to make as much money as I can, then return home to pay for citizenship!
Donald Weetman Cameron Avatar
Donald Weetman Cameron
Posted: 09.05.09, 10:45 AM
Market Triumphalism?? Verbose The general meaning of Laissez-faire is to allow events to take their own course, or to let people do what they choose. The term is a French phrase literally meaning "let do" or "leave it to be". laissez-faire economic philosophy In economics, it has become a doctrine that holds that the state should seldom or never intervene in the marketplace. The term is often used to refer to various economic philosophies and political philosophies which seek to minimize or eliminate government intervention in most or all aspects of society.
Donald Weetman Cameron Avatar
Donald Weetman Cameron
Posted: 09.05.09, 10:14 AM
Unless we deal with complexity ...
“markets are not mere mechanisms. They embody certain norms. They presuppose, and also promote, certain ways of valuing the goods being exchanged.” The quoted is rather wobbly. How does one describe norm if not through cause and effect? A norm is a mechanism. Some mechanisms attempt to implement metaphors; some attempt to implement surrealisms. Goods and services are values. Some values are remunerative, others intimate. Any problem always arises from behavior (in the sense of what has been done), the " intrinsic condition". dwc
nickw Avatar
Posted: 08.04.09, 01:02 PM
This video is similar (but not identical) to Sandel's Reith lecture (radio program and transcript available here - ), and also his essay on Markets and Morals (readable here - ). My quotes are from the Reith lecture transcript, so may not be identical to the above video. What I believe Sandel is arguing is not for paying for immigration - either by immigrants or countries - but rather using those examples (suggested by other scholars) to demonstrate that “markets are not mere mechanisms. They embody certain norms. They presuppose, and also promote, certain ways of valuing the goods being exchanged.” (Reith lecture) Sandel uses these examples and then says "there is something distasteful about a market in refugees, even if it’s for their own good, but what exactly is objectionable about it? It has something to do with the fact that a market in refugees changes our view of who refugees are and how they should be treated." Sandel’s argument is interesting because our societies (I'm from the UK) seem to be more and more determined by economic forces without considering the ethical impact of markets on the commodities that those markets are trading in. As Sandel says, some things that markets are being applied to are not things that are properly called ‘commodities’, i.e. things which do not have value outside of that which markets impose on them. Human life, for instance, should not be treated as a commodity, we should not be willing to trade in instances of human life, because the market will not value it in the same way we do. Distrust in politicians seems to have increased our desire to allow market forces to impinge in our lives; we get the best value out of competition between suppliers to meet our demands, but not every demand should be met by competing suppliers, because that usurps the value we place on some things, and replaces it with the value that the market determines. In the Reith lecture, Sandel is quite clear on his position re the refugee discussion: “INTERVIEWER: What’s your answer on the refugee issue? MICHAEL SANDEL: Prima facie, I find it appalling. But if some experiment were done of this kind, then I would want not only to count the number of refugees who were given asylum under the new policy as against the old. I would also want to know more about the public culture in the societies that received the refugees, that refused to receive the refugees, the attitude toward immigrants, the quality of life and the self-esteem of the refugees and of immigrants. Those are among the things that I would want to look at.”
pokerandwine Avatar
Posted: 07.31.09, 02:05 PM
Japanese example is so unapropriate... No matter of the high GDP per capita they cannot take more refugees as they hardly have enough space for themselves. In order for a Japanese to buy a car he needs to verify availability of the parking space .