- The student can reproduce, explain and illustrate the central concepts and theories of important economists and philosophers (such as Friedrich Hayek, Adam Smith, Karl Marx and Joseph Stiglitz) with respect to markets.
- The student can reproduce and balance important arguments in favor of markets (freedom, wealth) and against markets (exploitation, inequality, consumption externalities and commodification).
- The student can critically reflect on the way markets function on the basis of the above arguments.
- The student can analyze the ethical problems with current consumption behavior and commodification and apply them to existing examples.
This course analyzes the most important philosophical and ethical issues concerning free markets. We go into the definition of markets, how they function and their role in our society. We go into the most important arguments in favor of markets, namely 1) that they respect and maximize freedom (Friedrich Hayek, Robert Nozick, Ayn Rand) and 2) that they increase efficiency and productivity and thus generate wealth (Adam Smith, two theorems of welfare economics). We weigh these off against more critical analyses of markets. We analyze problems of exploitation and alienation (Karl Marx), inequality (Joseph Stiglitz), consumption (Juliet Schor) and commodification (Michael Sandel, Debra Satz). In the end, the idea is that student are able to think critically themselves about the advantages and disadvantages of free markets and thus about the role that markets should be playing in societies like ours.|