COURSE TITLE: Markets, Morality, and Society
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3(hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Markets play a major role in coordinating human interaction and activity in the modern world. Some think this role should expand, others decry it as harmful or distorting of human society, morality, and environment. This course considers these debates by drawing on research from a variety of disciplines - including economics, sociology, philosophy, and theology - to consider the nature of markets, their social structural and anthropological foundations, and the effects they have on the people that inhabit them.

Prerequisites: Six credits of
ECON 203, ECON 204HIST 204, POLI 205
  • Reader including selections from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Marx’s Capital, Vol. 1, Polanyi’s The Great Transformation; and various selections from more recent economic thinkers.
Course Participation10%
Paper 1 30%
Paper 230%
Final Exam20%
COURSE  OBJECTIVES: This course explores different understandings of the nature of and possibilities for wisely using markets by examining different approaches to some of its fundamental structures, viz. private property, value and exchange.  In particular, this course seeks to “get behind” the taken-for-granted meanings of these phenomena and to question their constitutive and normative bases.  It will ask such questions as: what does it mean to own something?  What is the foundation of value?  How do exchange relations relate to other human activities and comportments (such as moral valuation and judgment, political citizenship, interactions with the natural world, religious commitment)?  The aim is to develop a critical and Christian view of the constitutive and normative foundations of the market.  To achieve this, the course will begin by investigating how earlier thinking about property, value and exchange developed, particularly in the work of some “classical economists”.  It will then turn to contemporary considerations, particularly to attempts to (re)think property and exchange relations in the light of contemporary issues such as global poverty, social cohesion and environmental degradation.
  • Familiarity with the key ideas and themes of classical economic thought
  • Developing an understanding of the continuing relevance of these themes for understanding and evaluating the workings of modern market economies.
  • Beginning to critically and Christianly engage economic thought, using it to illuminate the proper place and role of markets in a well ordered, just society.
  • Week 1 (Jan 4, 6): Intro; Overview (“Boundaries”)
  • Week 2 (Jan 9, 11, 13): Smith – Selections TBD
  • Week 3 (Jan 16, 18, 20):  (Wed, 18th – IDS) Smith con’t
  • Week 4 (Jan 23, 25, 27):  Marx: “Fetishism” and “Exchange”
  • Week 5: (Jan 30, Feb 1, 3):  Marx: “Circulation” and “Surplus Value”
  • Week 6: (Feb 6, 8, 10): Polanyi: chs 4-6
  • Week 7 (Feb 13, 15, 17): Ideal Markets and Market failures: Kay and Heath
  • Week 8 (Feb 20, 22, 24): Reading Week
  • Week 9 (Feb 27, March 1, 3): Distributive Justice: Sen
  • Week 10 (Mar 6, 8, 10): Morality and Markets: Sandel
  • Week 11 (Mar 13, 15, 17): Markets and Citizenship: Sennett and TBA
  • Week 12 (Mar 20, 22, 24): Markets and Environment: Anderson, Meyer
  • Week 13 (Mar 27, 29, 31): Markets and Christianity: Ward, Schneider
  • Week 14 (April 3, 5, 7): Flex week and Presentations
  • Week 15 (April 10, 12): Presentations

Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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