The socialist view of markets and competition as always morally corrupting is challenged. Michael Sandel, Margaret Radin, Debra Satz and others have argued that there are limits to what should be put up for sale. But their criteria are different and sometimes unspecified. In some cases the moral difficulty may arise from economic inequality rather than commodification as such. Nevertheless, there is evidence that markets can ‘crowd out’ cooperation and moral sentiments. From a different viewpoint, Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski have argued that if it is morally permissible to possess something, then it is morally permissible to sell it. But this claim depends on the assumption that selling does not change the characteristics of the good or service that is transferred, or the background conditions upon which it depends. Hence the difference between a sale and a gift. Brennan and Jaworski’s conditional defence of vote selling is also criticised.
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