Bentley University, Associate Professor, Jeff Moriarty will be the guest speaker.
Does the Market Failures Approach to Business Ethics Apply to the Actual Business World?
The view of business ethics that Christopher McMahon calls the “implicit morality of the market” and Joseph Heath calls the “market failures approach” has received a lot of recent attention. According to this view, we can derive an ethics for market participants from the “point” of markets. In this paper I ask a simple question: does this view have any implications for the real world? My answer is: not really. It tells market actors in a world characterized by the conditions of perfect competition what to do, but not market actors in the real world. I then ask what we can salvage of the implicit morality of the market/market failures approach for the real world. I argue that, if we try to preserve its normative foundations, we cannot salvage much. But its rules for ideal market actors are independently attractive. I conclude by sketching — using an analogy with competitive sports — a new way of justifying them.