Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (3):457-482 (2020)

Roberto Fumagalli
King's College London
Over the last few decades, there have been intense debates concerning the effects of markets on the morality of individuals’ behaviour. On the one hand, several authors argue that markets’ ongoing expansion tends to undermine individuals’ intentions for mutual benefit and virtuous character traits and actions. On the other hand, leading economists and philosophers characterize markets as a domain of intentional cooperation for mutual benefit that promotes many of the character traits and actions that traditional virtue ethics accounts classify as virtuous. In this paper, I join this debate and argue for three claims of general interest to philosophers, economists and policy makers. First, market transactions do not reliably promote individuals’ intentions for mutual benefit, and often select against such intentions. Second, the set of so-called market virtues lacks a substantial overlap with the set of character traits that traditional virtue ethics accounts classify as virtuous. And third, many seemingly virtuous actions observed in market contexts are merely actions in accordance with virtue rather than genuine actions from virtue. These three claims do not license opposition to markets, but challenge the main empirical and theoretical presuppositions of leading virtue ethics defences of markets.
Keywords Markets  Morality  Virtues  Social Policy  Mutual Benefit  Cooperation
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/josp.12336
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 59,848
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
Equality and Equal Opportunity for Welfare.Richard J. Arneson - 1989 - Philosophical Studies 56 (1):77 - 93.
Capitalism and Freedom.Milton Friedman - 1962 - Ethics 74 (1):70-72.

View all 88 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Markets, Morals, and Virtues: Evidential and Conceptual Issues.Roberto Fumagalli - 2020 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 13 (1).

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Virtue Ethics and the Charge of Egoism.Julia Annas - 2007 - In Paul Bloomfield (ed.), Morality and Self-Interest. Oxford University Press.
Environmentalism and Public Virtue.Brian Treanor - 2009 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 23 (1-2):9-28.
Team Reasoning and Intentional Cooperation for Mutual Benefit.Robert Sugden - 2015 - Journal of Social Ontology 1 (1):143–166.
How to Think About Virtue and Right.Valerie Tiberius - 2006 - Philosophical Papers 35 (2):247-265.
What's Aristotelian About Neo‐Aristotelian Virtue Ethics?Sukaina Hirji - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (3):671-696.
Virtuous Markets: The Market as School of the Virtues.Ian Maitland - 1997 - Business Ethics Quarterly 7 (1):17-31.
Markets.Lisa Herzog - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2013.
Do Markets Crowd Out Virtues? An Aristotelian Framework.J. J. Graafland - 2010 - Journal of Business Ethics 91 (1):1-19.
The Possibility of Virtue.Miguel Alzola - 2012 - Business Ethics Quarterly 22 (2):377-404.
Virtuous Markets: The Market as School of the Virtues.Maitland Ian - 1997 - Business Ethics Quarterly 7 (1):17-31.
In Defense of the Primacy of the Virtues.Jason Kawall - 2009 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 3 (2):1-21.


Added to PP index

Total views
34 ( #310,074 of 2,433,036 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
11 ( #60,159 of 2,433,036 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes