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Boston Review: How Markets Crowd Out Morals [Forum]



Michael Sandel explains in his book, What Money Can’t Buy, how the markets have made commodities out of almost everything. He explains his reasoning in his lead essay How Markets Crowd Out Morals on the Boston Review. His argument generates discussion and gives readers food for thought about how they feel about these issues. The following writers are featured on the Boston Review for their responses to Sandel’s article. Is there someone you agree with most? Who do you disagree with? Discuss these topics in the comments below.




Richard Sennett

When the market is everywhere, we lead a socially impoverished existence.

Matt Welch

Because Sandel disagrees with people’s choices, he wants to take those choices away.

Anita L. Allen

Financial incentives are improperly used to induce African Americans to embrace “good” behaviors.

Debra Satz

Debating the place of the market is less about the value of goods than about inequality.

Herbert Gintis

Tolerance, equality, and democracy have only flourished in market societies.

Lew Daly

Making money, formerly an exclusive realm of cosmic evil, is now “doing God’s work.”

Samuel Bowles

Even market enthusiasts know that society can’t function if people are the amoral, self-interested calculators of blackboard economics.

Elizabeth Anderson

The profit motive is corrupting the justice system.

John Tomasi

Free markets are a kind of fairness.

Michael J. Sandel replies

By keeping markets in their place, we can avoid their corrosive effects.

(Courtesy of



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