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58 IntroSems. 25 Stanford fountains. 1 Spring 2020. Don’t suffer from FoHo FoMo!
Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Ethics, Morality, and Markets
Markets are inescapably entangled with questions of right and wrong. What counts as a fair price or a fair wage? Should people be able to sell their organs? Do companies have a responsibility to make sure algorithmic decisions don’t perpetuate racism and misogyny? Even when market exchange seems coldly rational, it still embodies normative ideas about the right ways to value objects and people and to determine who gets what. In this seminar, we will study markets as social institutions permeated with moral meaning. We will explore how powerful actors work to institutionalize certain understandings of good and bad; unpack how particular moral visions materially benefit some groups of people more so than others; examine the ways people draw on notions of fairness to justify and contest the market’s distribution of resources and opportunities; and consider who has agency to build markets according to different normative ideals. Most course readings are empirical research, so we will also critically discuss how social scientists use data and methods to build evidence about the way the world works.