Exit, Voice and Values in Economic Institutions

Economics and Philosophy 13 (1):87-100 (1997)
Abstract
Are there worthwhile values and ideals which flourish in the procedures of the state but wither in the transactions of the market? Are there equitable and fulfilling social relationships which are nurtured in the economic sphere but crumble in the political world? There is clearly some truth in the claim that at least in certain circumstances market systems inculcate in people not only ‘honesty and diligence, but also sensitivity to the needs and preferences of others’ . On the other hand, it is difficult to deny the appeal of a tradition of thought which attaches moral superiority to the non-market ideals and values epitomised in the gift relationship. Titmuss , for example, objected to treating blood as a commodity in part because it undermined the sense of fraternity or community which a system of voluntary blood donors enhanced. A contemporary statement of this position holds that gift values differ from commodity values in being ‘tokens of love, admiration, respect, honor, and so forth, and consequently lose their value when they are provided for merely self-interested reasons’
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