v4 n9 Brennan and Jaworski Respond to Taylor on ‘Markets Without WHAT Limits?’

Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski“I’ll Pay You Ten Bucks Not to Murder Me” by Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski

A RESPONSE TO James Stacey Taylor (2016), “What Limits Should Markets be Without?”Bus Ethics J Rev 4(7): 41–46.

Abstract: James Stacey Taylor offers three interpretations of our thesis, and argues that only one of them goes through. His point is to clarify our view rather than critique our position. In this brief response, we argue that, upon further clarification, we could endorse at least one of the other interpretations, though as Taylor notes, we don’t need to for our book’s thesis to go through.

To download the full PDF, click here: Brennan and Jaworski Respond to Taylor.

5 Comments on “v4 n9 Brennan and Jaworski Respond to Taylor on ‘Markets Without WHAT Limits?’”

  1. I agree with Peter on the conditionality requirement for a market exchange. I think you’re right that it’s permissible to pay someone to do something that they have an obligation to do anyway. But I think that if I have a moral obligation to perform an action for someone then I owe the person that action; she has a claim on me to perform it. And if I make my performance of that action conditional on payment (i.e., I try to sell my performance of that action to her) I would wrong her by threatening to withhold from her something that I already owe her.

  2. Douglas B. Rasmussen says:

    Brennan and Jaworski:

    The statement “There are some things which people are normally allowed
    to own or possess in some way, but which should not be for
    sale” is false (17).

    I am still trying to get clear on what is meant by “possess in some way” and “sale.” So, here is a revised version of what I wrote yesterday on this issue. One’s integrity is found in one’s character and conduct, and it is normal to say that it is something one has or possesses. Integrity is expressed in a loyalty in one’s conduct to those very values that make one who one is. The common moral claim is that one should not betray one’s integrity for something else–be it for love, money, power, prestige, a political cause, or whatever (which would include betraying oneself with the no expectation of receiving anything in return). Integrity-betraying-conduct is objectionable not because it is done for money, but simply because it is not something to be exchanged or given away. If one wants to say that there is nothing additionally wrong with exchanging one’s integrity for money than what is wrong in exchanging it for anything else (or giving it a way), then okay. [This may be all that B&J want to claim.] But it still does not show that one cannot have a moral objection to exchanging one’s integrity for money. It would still seem to be true to say that one’s integrity should not be for sale.

    • How about putting it like this: integrity is not alienable, in the sense that if I in some sense “give up” or “sell” my integrity, no one else therefore suddenly HAS my integrity. “Giving up” my integrity is just a figure of speech. And I take it that Jason and Peter’s thesis applies to things that are alienable in that sense.

      • Douglas B. Rasmussen says:

        Thanks Chris, but it seems to me that integrity is bought and sold quite often. Integrity is not some spooky “metaphysical” reality. It is found in conduct that is loyal to those basic values that make one who one is. The integrity of a person is measured by the actions they choose to perform. It is perfectly possible for folks to conduct themselves in ways that betray those values. So too, it seems perfectly possible for folks to sell their integrity by choosing to perform actions that betray their basic values. By so conducting themselves they give up their integrity to the person who purchased this integrity-betraying-conduct. What they buyer gets is conduct that is contrary to the basic values of the seller–it divests the seller of their integrity. This is no mere figure so speech–indeed it is quite literal.

        • Douglas B. Rasmussen says:

          If my previous reply is correct, then it seems one can say that one’s integrity should not be for sale. But if I understand J & B’s argument correctly, then their reply would be that the moral impropriety of selling one’s integrity comes from integrity-betraying-conduct and not from its sale. In others words, they would claim that one can separate the moral analysis of the “selling” from “what is sold.” Two things can be said in response: (1) Though it is true that one can think of selling without thinking of what is sold, this does not show that selling can occur without something being sold. And so, any moral evaluation of selling must consider how it is related to what is sold. (2) The relationship between selling and what is sold need not always be the same, and so the basis for the moral evaluation of selling something can vary. It seems, for example, that in the case of selling murder, the moral impropriety results from what is being sold alone. The act of selling is not a way of murdering someone. Selling is incidental to the immorality of selling murder. Yet, in the case of selling integrity-betraying-conduct selling is not incidental but is rather one of the ways of betraying one’s integrity. As said before, selling integrity-betraying-conduct does not make integrity-betraying-conduct more morally inappropriate but neither is it something external to such conduct.

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