Market Complicity and Christian Ethics

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Overview

The marketplace is a remarkable social institution that has greatly extended our reach so shoppers in the West can now buy fresh-cut flowers, vegetables, and tropical fruits grown halfway across the globe even in the depths of winter. However, these expanded choices have also come with considerable moral responsibilities as our economic decisions can have far-reaching effects by either ennobling or debasing human lives. Albino Barrera examines our own moral responsibilities for the distant harms of our market transactions from a Christian viewpoint, identifying how the market's division of labour makes us unwitting collaborators in others' wrongdoing and in collective ills. His important account covers a range of different subjects, including law, economics, philosophy, and theology, in order to identify the injurious ripple effects of our market activities.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The author takes readers through numerous examples of how individual and collective market decisions can have negative consequences on people far from the scene of one’s moral choices. … Informing the whole discussion is a strong Christian moral theological framework."
Choice

"As an economist, he has produced an important contribution to the literature on … the unintended social costs of economic activity … As a theologian, Barrera’s great strength is his ability to bring moral theology into dialogue with other disciplines. … an important book on an important subject. … Barrera covers new ground in moral theology and provides a framework for a rigorous examination of the ethics of an important and underexplored aspect of market economics. … a significant and ground-breaking study …"
Journal of Theological Studies

"… an excellent framework for evaluating the moral culpability of those who engage in voluntary transactions in the marketplace. … succeeds in engaging some of the most difficult dilemmas … provides a lucid analysis of marketplace ethics. His work is thought-provoking."
Review of Social Economy

"Barrera writes clearly with lucid prose and a transparent step-by-step approach, which make navigation easy . … The book’s key value is in two areas: its methodology, and the range of disciplines applied. … [I]t is a marvel of scholastic reasoning, and is thorough in the breadth of disciplines that are applied to establish responsibility for the scenarios examined. The significance of the book is in this blending of Christian ethics with principles from tort law or jurisprudence, moral philosophy and economic theory."
Church Times

"[T]his book will be of value to anyone who is interested in the morality of the global market."
Religion

"[A]n impressive and detailed study of the ethics of market participation in globalized markets...weaves together the contributions of theology, philosophy, law and economics with remarkable dexertiy. … an important contribution to political theology and political economy."
Political Theology

"This is a book on an important question by a well-equipped scholar...a valuable contribution to the literature on economics and theology."
International Journal of Social Economics

"[A] careful and serious Christian study of an important and timely issue … an important book for economists with an interest in Catholic economic ethics."
Faith and Economics

“[A] thorough treatment of the topic … focuses on theory rather than practice.”
Heythrop Journal

“Barrera … traces the distinct ways in which moral philosophy, Christian ethics, and economic theory identify economic harms - an interdisciplinary approach he uses well and often to exploit the deepest insights into his subject. … timely and sophisticated analysis of market complicity.”
Journal of Religion“This book is a very welcome contribution to a highly interesting subject. … Anyone interested in Christian economic ethics or in economics ethics in general will find the book very illuminating and stimulating.”
Journal of American Academy of Religion

“Of particular interest is Barrera’s summary of what is distinctive about Christian ethics. … he develops a compelling account of the essential role of community in moral formation … and the effect this should have on our economic choices.”
Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

"… a thoughtfully argued proposal for an approach to material cooperation that is more detailed and precise … Put simply, Barrera works with the moral tradition he has inherited but enriches it by his employment of parallel insights from other disciplines. … Barrera has provided us with a valuable book … it is a very fine achievement."
The Thomist

“Barrera sets himself a tough intellectual challenge. … It is a very impressive book. … The interweaving of a philosophy of causation, the law of tort and P.D.E. [principle of double effect] in Thomism illuminates current economic events in a magisterial way.”
Ecclesiology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107003156
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2011
  • Series: New Studies in Christian Ethics Series , #31
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Albino Barrera is Professor of Economics and Theology at Providence College in Rhode Island. His previous publications include Globalisation and Economic Ethics (2007), Economic Compulsion and Christian Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2005), God and the Evil of Scarcity (2005) and Modern Catholic Social Documents and Political Economy (2001).

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Table of Contents

Preface; Part I. Theory: Material Cooperation in Economic Life: 1. The nature of material cooperation and moral complicity; 2. Complicity in what? The problem of accumulative harms; 3. Too small and morally insignificant? The problem of overdetermination; 4. Who is morally responsible in the chain of causation? The problem of interdependence; Part II. Application: A Typology of Market-Mediated Complicity: A. Hard Complicity: 5. Benefiting from and enabling wrongdoing; 6. Precipitating gratuitous harms; B. Soft Complicity: 7. Leaving severe pecuniary externalities unattended; 8. Reinforcing injurious socioeconomic structures; Part III. Synthesis and Conclusions: 9. Toward a theology of economic responsibility; 10. Synthesis: Christian ethics and blameworthy material cooperation; References; Index.

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