Minor The Moral Limits of Markets: Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale

Verdiepende minor
10 weken


In this minor students will be introduced to some analytical frameworks from business ethics, political theory and behavioral economics for assessing the moral limits of markets. You will be encouraged to think about critical examples of where we should draw the line between matters that are suitable to be distributed by the market and matters which should be exempt from the market. The minor also provides an antidote against the market triumphalism that dominates the research in some academic disciplines, such as economics and business administration.

Learning objectives

Students are introduced to a number of recent major theories about markets and morality. They are stimulated to think for themselves about instances in which we may take the use of the market for granted too easily. They will learn to conduct their own empirical research informed by the normative theories discussed.
The minor introduces students in business administration, economics and other social sciences to the disciplines of (normative) business ethics and political theory. As part of these explorations students will familiarize themselves with research methods typical for these domains of normative inquiry.
After following this minor, the student is able to:
− Understand recent major theories about markets and morality
− Conduct own empirical research
− Understand and implement methodology of normative research

Special aspects

All RSM minors have mandatory attendance.

Overview content per week

The minor consists of three parts:

Part 1 – Major recent theories of markets and morality
Part 2 – Sample cases to illustrate these theories – see schedule below
Part 3 – Each student will conduct his/her own case study, applying the frameworks discussed as part of the theories. These may be replications of the sample cases or entirely new applications of the frameworks discussed as part of the theories of markets and morality.

Each class meeting will consist of a mix of these three ingredients. As the program develops, the emphasis will gradually shift from theories, to sample cases, and finally to students’ own case work. We will end up by considering work by students themselves. The best cases will be presented in the class.

Teaching methods

The minor consists of: Lectures, class discussions, mid-term paper (1200 words), term paper, paper pitch.
The authors of the best papers will be invited to give a student presentation to the class, number of presentations will depend on the time available.

Teaching materials

Anderson, E. 1990. Value in Ethics and Economics, Harvard UP, chapters 1, 7-9 (extract available on the Canvas).
Grant, R. 2006. ‘Ethics and incentives: A political approach.’ American Political Science Review 100(1): 29-39.

Cassidy, J. 2009. How Markets Fail. The Logic of Economic Calamities. New York: Penguin.
Radin, M. J. 1987. Market-Inalienability. Harvard Law Review 100(8): 1849-1937.
Sandel, M. J.  2012.  What Money Can’t Buy.  New York: Penguin.
Satz, D.  2010.  Why Some Things Should Not Be For Sale. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Tobin, J. 1970. On Limiting the Domain of Inequality. Journal of Law and Economics, 13(2): 263-77
Walzer, M. Money and Commodities (extract available on the Canvas).


Method of examination
Class discussions, individual midterm paper, individual term paper and term paper pitch for your peer groep audience. Individual or group papers? There is no possibility of a resit for the midterm paper, term paper or the paper pitch session

Composition final grade
Final grade will be based on:
Class participation: 20%
1200 word mid-term paper: 20%
Term paper: 30% paper,

Paper pitch session: 30%

Feedback will be provided in the form of written comments on the midterm- and term paper.

Contact information

Dr. Ben Wempe
room: T11-40 (

Faculty website


Verdiepende minor
10 weken
Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
Studiepunten (EC)
Campus Woudestein, Rotterdam


Please read the application procedure for more information.