Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 429–440 | Cite as

Commodification and Human Interests

  • Julian J. KoplinEmail author
Original Research


In Markets Without Limits and a series of related papers, Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski argue that it is morally permissible to buy and sell anything that it is morally permissible to possess and exchange outside of the market. Accordingly, we should (Brennan and Jaworski argue) open markets in “contested commodities” including blood, gametes, surrogacy services, and transplantable organs. This paper clarifies some important aspects of the case for market boundaries and in so doing shows why there are in fact moral limits to the market. I argue that the case for restricting the scope of the market does not (as Brennan and Jaworski assume) turn on the idea that some things are constitutively non-market goods; it turns instead on the idea that treating some things according to market norms would threaten the realization of particular kinds of human interests.


Commodification Market boundaries Market design Moral dumbfounding Semiotic arguments 



This research was supported by funding from the Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program.


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Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Melbourne Law SchoolUniversity of MelbourneCarltonAustralia
  2. 2.Biomedical Ethics Research GroupMurdoch Children’s Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia

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