In this module, we are continuing our brief consideration of “applied ethics” and will ask two interrelated questions:

Are there things money cannot or should not buy? A related question is: are there things that should not be valued according to market demand?
Ought there be limits to the contracts we make? If so, what are they? A related question is: what values intervene (or might intervene) in our ability to determine the morality of contracts? (i.e. if we initially hold to the idea that markets are moral, and then we begin to question whether certain things ought not be valued according to a market, doesn’t this question immediately demonstrate that we need a criteria other than the market to determine morality?)
To test the first question, we will look at moral arguments for and against military conscription. Should the government require all able citizens to serve in the military (and, if so, isn’t this a violation of a libertarian sense of freedom of choice)? Or, should the government institute a draft but allow people to buy their way out of it (i.e. create a market demand for exemption from military service)? Lastly, is there a moral difference between paying not to be drafted and paying taxes to fund a volunteer army to fight on our behalf?

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To test the second question, we will look at moral arguments for and against pregnancy surrogacy. Is a contract between a surrogate and family ever completely consensual? Financial incentives obviously play a large role in being a surrogate in many cases (which is why it is vastly more common for a poor woman to be a surrogate for a wealthy family rather than a wealthy woman to be a surrogate for a poor family), so is the “contract” ever really mutual? Further, should surrogacy even be a market-driven enterprise in the first place? Does it ultimately amount to buying children?

After reading the text by Michael Sandel and watching the accompanying video, write a discussion board post that directly addresses either of the two questions summarized at the top of this page. Do so by (a) summarizing a specific topic from the video that Sandel addresses, (b) summarize what you feel to be the best moral argument from a student on that topic, (c) summarize what you consider to be the best moral counterargument, and then (d) expand on the “best” argument by defending it against the counterargument.

Start the video at 5:27 (it should start there automatically) and watch until the end. It totals 50 minutes.
We are not testing the morality of military service or pregnancy surrogacy in this module. Instead, we are using “military conscription” and “surrogacy contracts” as examples to test the morality of “markets.” Our question in this module is not whether it is moral to serve in the military, or whether it is moral to consent to being a pregnancy surrogate. Rather, our question in this module is simply: are markets moral?
This raises some interesting questions:
◦What makes a market moral?
◦If a market is moral insofar as it requires the mutual consent of contracting parties, who agree to an exchange from a position of equality and free of coercion, then do markets ever really meet this standard?
◦If there are “things” that should not be exchanged on a market, then what moral metric do we use to evaluate this market if not the freedom of the market itself?

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