Autonomy, responsibility, and the market

3 November 2008, 17:00 - 19:00

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane

Dr. Ben Colburn  (Lecturer, Philosophy)

Consider autonomy-minded liberalism, the position that the state ought to promote individual autonomy, aiming at equal  access to autonomy for all. Such a position in politics might seem  to fit very happily with an endorsement of a free market in economics. I think that the autonomy-minded liberal should be wary  of this common link. Drawing on a framework for thinking about  markets suggested by Ronald Dworkin, I argue that the moral acceptability of a market in a given domain depends on what it is  fair to hold people responsible for. I then show that many  apparently innucous mechanisms for setting the value of goods look much more questionable once we realise what judgments about  responsibility they covertly commit us to.

Suggested reading: Ronald Dworkin 'Equality of What? Part 2:  Equality', pp. 65-119 in his book Sovereign Virtue (Harvard, 2000).

Respondent:  Dr Serena Olsaretti (University Senior Lecturer, Philosophy)

Followed by drinks at "The Anchor"


Theme for  2008/09  "The Moral Economy?"

Part of Business and Society Research Group

The  Group aims to provide an interdisciplinary forum for researchers investigating the cultures of capitalism and the social and ethical dimensions of organizations, business, and economics.