What Does Pricelessness Mean?

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  1. 1.

    See D. Satz, Why some things should not be for sale: The moral limits of markets (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) and M. Sandel, What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012).

  2. 2.

    Carl Elliott, “Medicine as a Commodity,” in M. Solomon, J. R. Simon, H. Kincaid (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine (New York: Routledge, 2016), pp. 520-521.

  3. 3.

    Ibid., p. 521.

  4. 4.

    Certainly, one could evoke many other cases to illustrate the problem of pricelessness, such us: soldiers of fortune, organ donation or commercial surrogacy. In my opinion, however, the artificial but simple case with a friend paying for friendship is more useful, because, in contrast to the above mentioned cases, it is not immersed in the broad public, academic, bioethical or contemporary feminist debates. As such, it helps to concentrate solely on the notion of pricelessness, without confusing it with the problems of fairness or exploitation etc.

  5. 5.

    See M.A. Warren, Moral Status: Obligations to Persons and Other Living Things (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

  6. 6.

    See “priceless” in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, Davies,. (2018-) The 14 Billion Word iWeb Corpus. Available online at https://www.english-corpora.org/iWeb/.

  7. 7.

    Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. A. W. Wood (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, , 2002), p. 52.

  8. 8.

    Ibid., p. 53.

  9. 9.

    Ibid., p. 53.

  10. 10.

    See M. Rosen, Dignity. Its History and Meaning (Cambridge/London: Harvard University Press, 2012); Ruth Macklin, “Dignity is a useless concept,” BMJ 327 (2003): 1419-1420 or Roberto Andorno, “Human Dignity and Human Rights as a Common Ground for a Global Bioethics,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (2009): 223 – 240.

  11. 11.

    Article 21 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine: Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, states that: The human body and its parts shall not, as such, give rise to financial gain.

  12. 12.

    Immanuel Kant, op. cit., p. 24.

  13. 13.

    See R. B. Brandt, Ethical Theory: The Problems of Normative and Critical Ethics (Literary Licensing, 2011) or A. Miller, Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction, 2nd Edition (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013).

  14. 14.

    It should be noted that the presented division on cognitivism and non-cognitivism is vastly simplified.

  15. 15.

    This is why the above expression "we assign to x" shouldn't be understood in the cognitivist way, it doesn't mean that "we believe x has the property".

  16. 16.

    See Philippa Foot, “The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect,” Oxford Review 5 (1967): 5-15 or Judith Jarvis Thomson, “The Trolley Problem”, The Yale Law Journal 94/6 (1985): 1395-1415.

  17. 17.

    Of course, the assumed plurality and incomparability of some values does not mean that we can’t ever combine different values or look at one from the perspective of another - the whole commodification debate is an ethical reflection on the markets, so it presupposes that we can ethically assess the economy.

  18. 18.

    R. Chang, Incommensurability, Incomparability, and Practical Reason (Cambridge/London: Harvard University Press, 1997).

  19. 19.

    Elizabeth Anderson, “Practical Reason and Incommensurable Goods,” in R. Chang (ed.), op. cit., p. 103.

  20. 20.

    Ruth Chang, “Against Constitutive Incommensurability or Buying and Selling Friends,” Philosophical Issues 11 (2001), p. 59.

  21. 21.

    Ibid., p. 55.

  22. 22.

    Ibid., p. 57.

  23. 23.

    Elizabeth Anderson, “Practical Reason and Incommensurable Goods,” in R. Chang (ed.), op. cit., p. 104.

  24. 24.

    Ibid., p. 103.

  25. 25.

    See A. Walsh, T. Lync, The Morality of Money: An Exploration in Analytic Philosophy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

  26. 26.

    M. Henaff, The Price of Truth: Gift, Money, and Philosophy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010), p. 13.

  27. 27.

    Of course, one could distinguish much more of such models, and the proposal presented here is just a useful simplification.

  28. 28.

    M. Sandel, op. cit., pp. 93 – 130.

  29. 29.

    Ibid., p. 120.

  30. 30.

    Ibid., p. 64.

  31. 31.

    See Judy Cameron, Katherine M. Banko, W. David Pierce Cameron, “Pervasive negative effects of rewards on intrinsic motivation: The myth continues,” The Behavior Analyst 24/1 (2001): 1–44; Uri Gneezy, Stephan Meier, Pedro Rey-Biel, “When and Why Incentives (Don’t) Work to Modify Behavior”, Journal of Economic Perspectives 25/4 (2011): 191-210; Kristen Underhill, “When Extrinsic Incentives Displace Intrinsic Motivation: Designing Legal Carrots and Sticks to Confront the Challenge of Motivational Crowding-Out,” Yale Journal on Regulation 33/1 (2016): 213 – 279 and Rebecca C.H. Brown, “Social values and the corruption argument against financial incentives for healthy behaviour,” Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (2017): 140–144.

  32. 32.

    M. Henaff, op. cit., p. 392.

  33. 33.

    Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, Sena Koleva, Matt Motyl, Ravi Iyer, Sean P. Wojcik, Peter H. Ditto, “Moral Foundations Theory,” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 47 (2013): 55–130.

  34. 34.

    Ibid., p. 68.

  35. 35.

    Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, “When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals may not Recognize, Social Justice Research 20/1 (2007), p. 106.

  36. 36.

    H. Arendt, The human condition, Second edition (Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 1998), p. 83.

  37. 37.

    Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, op. cit., p. 108 – 109.

  38. 38.

    M. Rothbard, For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto. Second edition (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2006), p. 129.

  39. 39.

    Ibid., p. 132.

  40. 40.

    Ibid., p. 123.

  41. 41.

    See Philmore, J. [pseudonym for David Ellerman], “The libertarian case for slavery”, The Philosophical Forum XIV/1 (1982): 43 – 58.

  42. 42.

    It should be also noted that there are some non-libertarian stands advocating for commodification on regulated market. Brennan and Jaworski argue that even selling votes would be morally permissible in some circumstances, see J. Brennan, P. Jaworski, Markets Without Limits: Moral Virtues and Commercial Interests (New York: Routledge, 2016), pp. 188 – 189.

  43. 43.

    See Martha M. Ertman, Joan C. Williams, “Freedom, Equality and the Many Futures of Commodification,” in M.M. Ertman, J.C. Williams (eds.) Rethinking Commodification. Cases and Readings in Law and Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2005) and Margaret Jane Radin, Madhavi Sunder, “The Subject and the Object of Commodification,” in M.M. Ertman, J.C. Williams (eds.), op. cit.

  44. 44.

    See V. Zelizer, The Purchase of Intimacy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).

  45. 45.

    M. Walzer, Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality (New York: Basic Books, 1983), pp. 100 – 103.

  46. 46.

    Ibid., p. 97.

  47. 47.

    A. MacIntyre, After Virtue. A Study in Moral Theory, Third edition (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), p. 188.

  48. 48.

    This persuasive observation might seems paradoxical in the context of etymology of the word "price", from the latin "pretium" which could mean both a reward and payment, similarly to the Latin word "merces". This ambiguity is also preserved in the French word "prix".

  49. 49.

    M. Walzer, op. cit., p. 4.

  50. 50.

    See M.J. Radin, Contested Commodities. The Trouble with Trade in Sex, Children, Body Parts, and Other (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), p. 102.

  51. 51.

    David Resnik, “The Commercialization of Human Stem Cells: Ethical and Policy Issues, Health Care Analysis 10 (2002), p. 140.

  52. 52.

    See V. Zelizer, op. cit., p. 22.

  53. 53.

    See A.V. Campbell, The Body in Bioethics (London: Routledge, 2009).

  54. 54.

    Ben Wempe, Jeff Frooman, “Reframing the Moral Limits of Markets Debate: Social Domains, Values, Allocation Methods,” Journal of Business Ethics 153 (2018), p. 12.

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Kaczmarek, E. What Does Pricelessness Mean?. J Value Inquiry (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10790-020-09785-8

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