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markets and moral order: another syllabus

I got some very useful feedback on my O&M syllabus, so I’m chancing my arm again. This one is a brand new small-group undergraduate seminar taught under the auspices of the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Participants are seniors of various majors taking an Ethics concentration, and this course is a “capstone” course where they are expected to write a fairly substantial paper. I want to teach debates about ethics/morality & the market more or less from the point of view outlined in this article (which you should all assign, btw). I remain dissatisfied with this version of the syllabus, as it really is a first go at it. As before, thoughts and suggestions are welcome, with a bias against adding five or six additional articles each week.

Written by Kieran

January 10, 2010 at 4:06 am

Posted in sociology

9 Responses

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  1. “I remain dissatisfied with this version of the syllabus…”

    Did you mean to post the syllabus itself? (I don’t see a link in the post.)

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    tf

    January 10, 2010 at 4:42 am

  2. Whoops! Sorry. Fixed now.

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    Kieran

    January 10, 2010 at 4:48 am

  3. You left out Ayn Rand. If you are going to have critics like Arlie Hochschild then you need the strongest case on the other side. Ayn Rand said that capitalism is the only moral social system because it is the only one that BEGINS with the correct assumptions about metaphysics and epistemology as the foundations for its ethics. Even Milton Friedman and F. A. von Hayek had more or less instrumentalist or utilitarian justitifications which could be (and are) applied to other systems, such as “Scandinavian socialism” and “Rhineland capitalism.”

    As much as I like — daresay love — Dierdre McCloskey, her narrative is historical and cultural, not philosophical. She looks at how these virtues operate. That is important. She is the Benjamin Franklin of our time.

    That is another reason why it is consequential to consider the one case that begins with axioms, rather than actions.

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    Michael E. Marotta

    January 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm

  4. Small typo, redundant “of” in the Callon ref. line.

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    Fr.

    January 10, 2010 at 9:06 pm

  5. Maybe the students would benefit from looking at the cultural and historical context of ethics and morality. Although that is present in the life insurance work, maybe going back to some classics in moral economy such as E.P. Thompson or Stephen Gudeman would be good.

    The protests they describe are bang on topic, are they not? The people are protesting (rioting) over what they see as the immoral (and then novel) extension of market principles into the distribution of some key things such as food. Something we take for granted now. My students were fascinated by it, particularly by Gudeman’s work on different moral norms held by immigrants to America.

    I can’t think of any references at the moment, but there is also quite a bit of work on the moral economy of early American settlers, and how communities set prices etc in order to limit markets and trade on moral grounds.

    And maybe something from Adam Smith’s TMS

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    Ben

    January 11, 2010 at 2:41 am

  6. I second TMS.

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    tf

    January 11, 2010 at 3:03 am

  7. The moral economy stuff is a good idea and might fit in with the consumer activism week, in place of the history I was going to use … hm. I’m also tempted by the TMS, but I think if I do put some of that in I will bypass some of the exegetical problems (which I’m by no means qualified to address anyway) by using Jonathan Bennett’s construal from early modern texts. (A very useful resource, if you don’t know it.)

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    Kieran

    January 11, 2010 at 3:08 am

  8. Plugging EconTalk again — they had a book forum on TMS last year (with 4+ episodes/podcasts) — a few highlights there, though frankly, wasn’t as good as it could have been.

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    tf

    January 11, 2010 at 3:13 am

  9. Ooh that Early Modern texts is a great resource. Thanks.

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    Ben

    January 11, 2010 at 5:00 am


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