Banning fur products: can different societies determine the morality of certain markets?


I recently found an article about the new law in Los Angeles that turned fur sales illegal. In the article, two different points of view about the ban are exposed: on one hand, council member Bob Blumenfield says "we will no longer be complicit in the inhumane and vile fur trade that’s been going on for years”, on the other hand, Harry Naim, the proprietor of a fur store, said that he was “absolutely against the ban and was very angry about it”.

This article made me think of one of the remarks made by Falk & Szech (2013) about the mouse experiment: “the notion that the existence of a market signals the morality of a transaction”.

The banning of fur sales makes me wonder if the social perception about what is moral or immoral can change through time and lead to the extinction of some markets. The recent public concern about making markets cruelty-free and the increasing number of defenders of animal rights has already influenced several markets.

Also, the banning of fur seems, to some people, much more reasonable in places like L.A. than in cities with colder climate like Moscow. Does that mean that killing animals for fur is moral in cold climates but immoral in hot climates? Can the morality of one action shift depending on the context?

Two important questions arise:

  1. to what extent can markets lead to immoral behavior before that behavior becomes so unacceptable that it makes the market significantly smaller or even disappear in some places?

  2. how can global markets reconcile two different perspectives about the morality behind one same good?

Let me know what you think. The link to the article is below.


Hi, Mafer!

Reading through what you wrote made me think that not only social perceptions can change through time but according to the scarcity of the resources. Take for example the case of endangered species such as elephants, rhinos or sea turtles, they are being hunt to extinction by poachers trying to profit off their ivory or eggs. They suffer from the misfortune of having something that humans arbitrarily place a high value upon. But what if they were numerous enough so that even hunting them they wouldn’t be in any danger of disappearing? I believe there is reason to think it wouldn’t be socially condemnable as it is today, mainly because it wouldn’t cause a disequilibrium in the environment and thus nobody would notice (as is the case with other animals that are hunted by sport).

Regarding the questions you proposed: 1. I think every society judges actions according to their specific context of time and space so they would only make an effort to disappear those markets when there is something at stake.
2. I don’t believe it is possible since markets differ from conditions in resources and other nature factors that determine the optimal outcome, it is not possible to change these conditions so integration would not make a profound change in the outcomes. I think technology has to play that role of making markets more “alike”.