Baron von Richthofen’s Account of Consent and the Puzzle of Non-Equilibrium Goods

The Freedom Center Spring 2020 Colloquium Series presents James Stacey Taylor, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the College of New Jersey.

In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the question of where the limits of markets lie. This discussion has recently focused on two distinct questions: (1) which goods cannot be bought and sold, and (2) which goods should not be bought and sold. But the recent emphasis on asking which goods should not be bought and sold might be misplaced, for very few critics of markets believe that there are goods or services that are essentially market inalienable. Instead, the discussion over the moral limits of markets should be a discussion over the moral limits of voluntary exchange. That is, it should identify conditions under which an exchange—even an exchange that appears to be voluntary on the part of those party to it—is morally impermissible. In this paper I outline one way in which apparently voluntary exchanges are morally impermissible: That one party to them does not fully consent to the exchange in question even if she might consent to it as she believes that she will be made better off by it. I then outline a “tri-decker” account of consent that is needed for a person to fully consent to an exchange. With this in hand I will note that a failure to pass this tri-decker test for legitimate consent will (typically) be limited to exchanges of certain goods: Those whose prices cannot adjust as a result of signaling to buyers or sellers to enter the market to achieve market equilibrium. We thus have reason to believe that markets in goods of this sort—non-equilibrium goods—are prima facie impermissible. 

This talk will be hosted on zoom by Lucy Schwarz. Please contact Lucy for details if you are interested in attending.

Event Contacts
Lucy Schwarz