Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Does capitalism cause morals?

This paper by Marion Fourcade, "Moral Views of Market Society" was interesting:
1. Does capitalism cause us to be more virtuous, cooperative, trusting, creative/innovative and free?
2. Does capitalism cause us to be envious, engage in conspicuous consumption, create inequality, corrupt the virtues of some goods such as organs, commoditize goods to a lowest common denominator, and create all kinds of legal obstacles such as copyrights and patents?

This paper also gives a third and fourth view of the market:
3. The realist view where the market/capitalism is only an enabler (the "feeble" view) or part of "governance" and "institutions". There are "good" and "bad" institutions that interact with the "culture" or alternatively, institutions cannot be transplanted and each economy has to find success/economic growth in an institution that is unique to itself, i.e. there are different types of successful capitalism. Or alternativey, one set of institutions can work every where (the voluntarist view).
4. Markets and morals cannot be separated. Institutions and hence markets are created in part with moral judgements - moralized markets. Markets need to governed by morals either by successful recasting of the exchange process or by a change in the views held by the participants.

I may have summarized this incorrectly but this is my reading of it.

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