During this chapter, specifically in the discussion of markets leading to moral behavior, I found interesting this concept of “doux commerce”. The textbook indicates that the relation between markets and morals is given by this concept of “doux commerce”. But if we are interested in the whole effect of this interaction, we must consider the trust.
So, I found in the newest book of French professor Jean Tirole his concerns about the moral limits of the market. One of Tirole´s concerns is “Are markets a threat to social cohesion?” He refers to the eighteen-century philosophers just like Voltaire and David Hume which emphasized the necessity of behaving in a civil manner in a trade economy, and also Montesquieu talked about this idea of “doux commerce”, which in his view, the market teaches us to interact with foreigners and to get to know about them.
Tirole reviewed three issues about this particularly concern:
- The market reinforces the selfishness of its actors which makes them less capable to forging effective bounds with others.
- The market encourages citizens to distance themselves from traditional institutions.
- The market allows citizens to envisage certain transactions that would otherwise be unthinkable (organ selling and sexual services) which puts aspects of their private life on the same level as everyday commercial transactions.
To analyze this issues, Tirole quoted professor Paul Seabrigth, which argues that, far from relying only its participants’ self-interest, the market also demands from them a significant capacity to establish trust and nothing is more corrosive of trust that pure selfishness. Then, since prehistory, it has been the social aspect of human nature that allowed us to broaden the sphere of our exchanges. And also, that the market involves both competition and collaboration, but the balance is hard to get.
I also find interesting and constructive this vision of trust that gives to us professor Deirdre McCloskey. She argues that modern capitalism counted with the favor, and onces favored, a trust in unknown or strange people which today it’s making the difference between prosperous and poor economies around the world.
Finally, Tirole concludes that, event when the market neither strengthens nor weakens our social bounds, the market becomes a mirror to our should that reflects the realities of our societies, facets of our aspirations, and preferences that we would conceal.
So, according with this final reflexion of professor Tirole, I found that all the things that are reflected on the market give us a return, in someway, to the characteristics of the market integration discussed on the textbook: the degree of engagement in the market exchange, the settlement size and the sociopolitical complexity.
Now thinking in the real life, it’s true that we need a kind of trust to do every transaction in our economy. Even if it is a electronic transaction, such like buying on Amazon. But it’s still debatable the part of the “doux commerce”, again as mentioned in the book, it’s delicate to determined which exactly the measures of morality correspond. What kind of morality which are we going to follow? The libertarian, the socialist, the christian, the Kantian one? It gives us a wide aspect to think about it.
- Tirole, Jean. (2017). Economics for the Common Good. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press. pp. 47 - 50.
- McCloskey, Deirdre. (2006). The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press. page 181.
- Pancs, Romans. (2017). Lectures on Microeconomics: The Big Questions Approach. Mexico, ITAM. pp. 93 - 99.