Moral Markets: Ethics, Economics, and Liberty


This conference explored the role of ethics and liberty in the design and functioning of markets. It examined the writings of Adam Smith, as well as modern findings in neuroscience and psychology, to understand what morals are and where they come from. It then related these findings to the functioning of markets and their organization and regulation.


From Liberty Fund

The Theory of Moral Sentiments

by By Adam Smith
Edited by D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie

The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith’s first and in his own mind most important work, outlines his view of proper conduct and the institutions and sentiments that make men virtuous. Here he develops his doctrine of the impartial spectator, whose hypothetical disinterested judgment we must use to distinguish right from…

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An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (vol. 1)

by By Adam Smith
Edited by R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner
William B. Todd, Textual Editor

First published in 1776, the year in which the American Revolution officially began, Smith’s Wealth of Nations sparked a revolution of its own. In it Smith analyzes the major elements of political economy, from market pricing and the division of labor to monetary, tax, trade, and other government policies that…

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Additional Readings

Bowles, S. and Gintis, H., “Origins of human cooperation” In The Genetic and Cultural Origins of Cooperation, edited by Hammerstein, Peter, 429-443. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003.

Casebeer, William D.. “Moral Cognition and Its Neural Constituents.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 4 (2003): 840-846.

de Vignemont, F. and Singer, T.. “The Empathic Brain: How, When and Why?” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10, no. 10 (October 2006): 435-441.

Eisenberger and Lieberman. “Why Rejection Hurts: A Common Neural Alarm System for Physical and Social Pain.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (2004): 294-300.

Hauser, M.. Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.

Joshua Greene and Jonathan Haidt. "How (and where) does Moral Judgment Work." Trends in Cognitive Science 6 (2002): 517-523.

Levitt, Steven D. and List, John A.. “What do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences tell us about the Real World.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 21, no. 2 (2007): 153-174.

Zak, Paul. Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

Zak, Paul J.. “Moral Markets.” Liberty Fund Conference, "Moral Markets", San Diego, CA, March 26-29, 2009.