Morality and Commerce

  • John Meadowcroft


This chapter will consider the argument that the workings of market mechanisms undermine the very social institutions upon which the market itself depends. The successful operation of the market requires trust between market participants, and respect for private property and the rule of law, but it is argued that an externality of the operation of market forces is the erosion of such trust and respect. Hence, the market is alleged to be a ‘self-devouring’ mechanism that is unsustainable unless its scope is limited to ensure it does not devour its own foundations:

[I]n order to work effectively the market requires certain moral attitudes on the part of those involved, and … there is some danger of these moral underpinnings being disturbed by markets themselves, thereby striking at the roots of their own effectiveness and efficiency. (Plant 1999, p. 10)


Civil Society Market Economy Market Participant Market Force Liberal Democracy 
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Copyright information

© John Meadowcroft 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Meadowcroft
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Economic AffairsLondonUK
  2. 2.Hansard Scholars ProgrammeLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

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