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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Ethics and Markets (PGSP11259)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPostgrad (School of Social and Political Studies) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThis course will examine normative justifications and criticisms of market economies that are concerned with issues of well-being, or the good for humans. It will focus especially on the ethical evaluation of the kinds of social relationships, practices and values that are fostered or undermined by the market, as distinct from questions of distributive justice. It will explore these issues through the critical study of both classical and contemporary texts in political theory and social philosophy, and in doing so it will take account of work in comparative political economy on the 'real-world' nature and variety of market institutions.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course students should be able to demonstrate: (i) familiarity with the central concepts, claims and arguments presented in the theoretical texts considered in the course; (ii) an understanding of the relationship between, and the respective forms of justification for, the normative and empirical elements involved in the ethical evaluation of market institutions; (iii) the ability to critically assess the competing ethical judgments about market economies made by their various critics and defenders.
Assessment Information
Essay 4.000 words
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus After introducing key theoretical and conceptual issues about market economies and ethical evaluation, the course first considers the market's ethical justifications in the work of Smith and Hayek, and then examines the claims of various ethical critics of the nature of production, exchange and consumption in market economies and of their impact on other social domains. Possible responses to these criticisms will be considered, both normative (the supposed ill is wrongly regarded as such; the theory of well-being appealed to is defective; etc), and empirical (markets are not like this; the objectionable features obtain only in some, but not all, kinds of market economy; etc). Students will be expected to familiarise themselves with selected extracts from the specified texts (which may vary from year to year), and with additional literature relevant to their critical assessment. Week-by-week:

1. Defining 'the market': markets v households v planning; varieties of capitalism/market institutions.
2. Ethics and morality, 'good' and 'right'; objectivist and subjectivist theories of well-being.
3. Adam Smith (The Wealth of Nations, 1776) $ the market's 'invisible hand' generates socially beneficial outcomes from cooperation between self-interested individuals.
4. Friedrich Hayek (Law, Legislation and Liberty, 1976) $ markets based on voluntary exchanges between free and equal parties, avoiding imposition of collective judgments about social goods.
5. Karl Marx (Notes on James Mill's Political Economy, 1844) - market exchange assumes and reinforces egoism and relations of mutual indifference.
6. Karl Polanyi (The Great Transformation, Beacon Press 1944) - markets are non-moral economies, separating economic activity from social norms.
7. Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue, Duckworth 1982) - markets undermine conduct of production as a practice with its own internal goods and virtues.
8. Robert Lane (The Market Experience, CUP 1991) - markets sacrifice the greater good of meaningful work to the lesser good of consumption.
9. Elizabeth Anderson (Value in Ethics and Economics, Harvard UP 1995) - unconstrained markets undermine social goods in non-economic domains such as politics and family.
10. Oliver James (The Selfish Capitalist, Vermilion 2008) - market economies encourage psychologically damaging attitudes and character traits.
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Booth, William J., Households: On the Moral Architecture of the Economy, Cornell University Press 1993
Hall, Peter, and Soskice, David (eds), Varieties of Capitalism, Oxford University Press 2001
Heilbroner, Robert, The Making of Economic Society, 12th edn, Prentice Hall 2007
Kay, John, The Truth about Markets, Allen Lane 2003
Keat, Russell, Cultural Goods and the Limits of the Market, Macmillan 2000
Miller, David, Market, State and Community, Oxford University Press 1989
Nussbaum, Martha, Women and Human Development, Cambridge University Press 2000
O'Neill, John, The Market: Ethics, Knowledge and Politics, Routledge 1998
Slater, Don and Tonkiss, Fran, Market Society, Polity 2001
Walzer, Michael, Spheres of Justice, Blackwell 1983
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Russell Keat
Tel: (0131 6)50 4264
Course secretaryMrs Gillian Macdonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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