The Moral limits of Markets

TheMoral limits of Markets

TheMoral Limits of Markets

Thebook is a sophisticated analysis of the impact of free market on ourlives. In this book, he views markets as the use of prices expressedin money terms, and argues that commodification has corrupted themoral norms that guides the human beings interactions. The markethas pre-determined a price for exchange of the important things inlife ranging from privileged access to medical care, access toshorter queueing, paying for book positioning in a bookstore, payingnuns to pray for someone, Payment of Scholars by the Sikhs to readtheir Holy book or even sale of candles in Catholic Cathedrals. Heremembers that at Hill’s point, where he schooled, they were notallowed to tip lecturers as the tip was regarded as failure to regardteaching with proper respect (Sandel, 2012). However, many economistsperceives money as a good way of allocating goods or ratherexpressing gratitude. According to Sandel, not everything should bepriced and sold in the markets especially in a world tainted byunfair bargaining conditions and therefore, he calls for a publicdebate to discuss his view (Sandel, 2012). He writes, “apublic debate about what it means to keep markets in its place”.His main argument is against freedom to voluntarily decide theexchanges in the Market economy regardless of the backgroundconditions that prevail.

Sandelsought to validate the reasons why some practices were not authorizedwhile other questionable practices were considered appropriate andfit for the market. He brought into attention various examples suchas commercial surrogacy, a $40 million industry in the United States,which he equates to be morally tantamount to baby selling. He callsthe activists supporting the commercial surrogacy to either resistthe analogy or allow both practices. Sandel is concerned about theeffect of selling human organs on human dignity where the poor peoplehave more incentive to sell than the rich. He is also worried aboutthings that can be traded without being completely destroyed.Rebranding is a concept mainly used to bring back degraded ortarnished goods back into the market.

Implicationsof doing business ethically

Ofcourse, the major question revolves around the effects that ethicalconduct in business would have on the life of the entity, itssustainability and profitability in the long-term and short-term.Nevertheless, it may be acknowledged that ethical conduct of businessis likely to have extremely positive implications on the future ofthe entity.

First,ethical business conduct enhances the morale of the workers as theywould clearly be working in an open culture. This comes to the foreparticularly considering that the employees would be receiving faircompensation for the dedication and responsibility that theydemonstrate in their work. It goes without saying that this is one ofthe things that talented individuals seek out in an organization(Joneset al, 2005).They would seek career advancement in the business entity on thebasis of merit and the quality of work that they do rather than onfavoritism. In addition, they would want to be a component of abusiness entity whose management team is open about any actions thatare being undertaken in the organization. Essentially, companies thatare open and fair in the manner in which they deal with the employeesstand a much better chance of retaining their most talented workers.Such workers would also be immensely dedicated to the business entityas they would have much more ownership of the fate and future of thecompany (Joneset al, 2005).This, eventually, affects the productivity of the business in apositive way, particularly considering that the loyalty of the staffis a vital component for its profitability. Not only would thecompany manage to attract highly talented individuals but also retainthem and, consequently, sustain high productivity in the long-termand the short-term (Weiss,2009).

Inaddition, ethical business practices would enhance the reputation ofthe company and, subsequently, its productivity and profitability(Treviño&amp Nelson, 2011).This is particularly in the case of large customers who need tosafeguard the integrity and rightness of their supply chain. Suchcustomers require to be associated with businesses that havedemonstrated sound ethical practices especially when they are handingout their contracts. Such reputation and ethical behavior would bedemonstrated through good relationships with the consumers on thebasis of a commitment to transparency and honesty. Scholars havenoted that business entity that are reputed to act ethically oftenuse less effort in attracting investment capital (Treviño&amp Nelson, 2011).Even in instances where the industry and the market at large are incrisis, the customers and potential investors do not need to becajoled about investing in such an entity or to give it the benefitof doubt.

Onthe same note, such ethical behavior would result in the creation ofa positive business and work environment (Ferrellet al, 2013).Employees are always required to act ethically right from the timethey report for the interview. They have to honestly disclose theirexperience and capabilities so as to be fitting in the entity andparticular department. In addition, such employees would be seen asteam players and not individuals that are simply seeking to advancetheir cause (Tittle,2000).Such employees would have the capacity to create positiverelationships with the coworkers, not to mention the fact that theyare often deemed to be dependable to keep confidential information.Such levels of trust cultivated in the business entity would creategood work environment (Ferrellet al, 2013).

Lastly,ethical conduct of business would allow a business entity to avertthe possibility of legal problems in both the long-term and theshort-term. More often than not, unethical behavior affects otherentities including the general public, customers or even otherstakeholders such as the government. As much as the unethicalbehavior may only spell doom for the reputation of the company, thereare instances where the affected parties choose to follow the matterup and seek compensation. As much as the company may eventually endup winning the case, it would still have lost time and immenseresources in settling the case or clearing its name (Weiss,2009).The penalties emanating from such cases may be severe includingsanctions, fines and even penalties. Even when such losses areaverted, there is the possibility of negative publicity, which mayresult in a wide range of damages to the reputation of the company(Kaler,2000).Such a loss of reputation may prove even more costly than the finesand legal fees. Nevertheless, such losses would be averted or avoidedthrough ethical conduct of businesses. It is, therefore, notsurprising that business entities end up not only maintaining andlaying out the standards for ethical behavior but also invest intraining every concerned employee in the organization regarding theexpected conduct for them. This would go a long way in allowing forthe aversion of the possibility of litany of legal problems.Eventually, this would safeguard the reputation of the company andresult in immense savings of both time and money, which enhances thecompany’s sustainability and profitability (Joneset al, 2005).


Themarket is not in itself pernicious. The harm is rather cumulative.The more people allow the market thinking to dominate their lives,the more their way of thinking is inflicted crowding out the moralvalues. Commodification can be fair only if people’s choices to buyand sell goods were truly voluntary and where there is no clearconsent, ethical standards should be set to define the relationshipbetween the buyer and the seller. However, it is difficult to come upwith ethical standard to be adhered to by the businesses globally.This is because each individual conforms to values, socialprogramming and experiences that exist in his culture, religion orgeographical zone. What may be ethical in one society, may beunethical to another. Companies therefore, should navigate theirethical standards carefully as they impact them in areas ofmanagement, reputation and corporate social responsibility. There isalso an urgent need for market mechanisms that will shape the marketso that it will motivate the ethical conduct by making it lead tomore profits and punish the unethical conduct. Today, forces such ascriticismsin the press,public opinion forums, and ethical awards haveled to more environmentally cleancompanies. Companies with strongethical base can potentially reduce the cost of fines, improvereputation and brand image through ethical awards, decreasevulnerability to misconduct especially for companies with operationsoverseas where it is hard to supervise every employee from a closerange, positively influence their employees’ commitment to work andenhance customers’ loyalty.


Ferrell,O. C., Fraedrich, J., &amp Ferrell, L. (2013). Businessethics: Ethical decision making and cases.Mason, OH: South-Western/Cengage Learning.

Jones,C., Parker, M., &amp TenBos, R. (2005).For business ethics.London [u.a.: Routledge.

Kaler,J (2000). &quotReasons To Be Ethical: Self-Interest and EthicalBusiness.&quot Journalof Business Ethics.

Sandel,M. J. (2012). Whatmoney can`t buy: The moral limits of markets.New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Shaw,W. H. (2008). Business ethics. Australia: Thomson Wadsworth.

Tittle,P. (2000). Ethical issues in business: Inquiries, cases, andreadings. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Press.

Treviño,L. K., &amp Nelson, K. A. (2011). Managing business ethics: Straighttalk about how to do it right. New York: John Wiley.

Weiss,J. W. (2009). Businessethics: A stakeholders and issues management approach.Australia: South-Western Cengage Learning.