Consumer Ethics in a Global Economy

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184 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781626166950 (1626166951)

184 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781626166967 (162616696X)

ISBN: 9781626166974

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November 2019
LC: 2018058554

Moral Traditions series


Table of Contents

Consumer Ethics in a Global Economy
How Buying Here Causes Injustice There
Daniel K. Finn

It is a serious mistake to think that all we need for a just world is properly-structured organizations. But it is equally wrong to believe that all we need are virtuous people. Social structures alter people's decisions through the influence of the restrictions and opportunities they present.

Does buying a shirt at the local department store create for you some responsibility for the workplace welfare of the women who sewed it half a planet away? Many people interested in justice have claimed so, but without identifying any causal link between consumer and producer, for the simple reason that no single consumer has any perceptible effect on any of those producers.

Finn uses a critical realist understanding of social structures to view both the positive and negative effects of the market as a social structure comprising a long chain of causal relations from consumer/clerk to factory manager/seamstress. This causal connection creates a consequent moral responsibility for consumers and society for the destructive effects that markets help to create. Clearly written and engaging, this book is a must-read for scholars involved with these moral issues.

Daniel K. Finn is an economist and theologian, teaching at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota. He is a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA), the Society of Christian Ethics (SCE), and the Association for Social Economics. He has published extensively on the relation of ethics and economics. He is director of the True Wealth of Nations research project at the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies in Los Angeles.

"Finn succeeds in advancing a compelling theory of consumer moral agency and pushes the discipline of Christian ethics forward with constructive engagements with proponents of critical realism."—Studies in Christian Ethics

"This volume corrects the imprecision regarding economic and social realities that so often plagues Christian ethics. Finn's lucid accounts of social structures, markets, and power enables him to identify the moral responsibilities that consumers have for sinful social structures. Consumer Ethics in a Global Economy is required reading for the Christian ethicist."—Daniel J. Daly, Associate professor, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

"Finn's work again fills an important gap in Christian ethics, this time by carefully developing an accessible and compelling account of how markets place consumers into morally significant relationships with distant producers. Through its use of critical realism and concrete examples, this volume not only promises to clarify a number of ongoing debates within economic ethics, but also proposes a usefully fine-grained analysis of how moral agency is itself shaped by social structures such as markets."—Christina McRorie, Assistant professor of theology, Creighton University

Table of Contents

Part I: Our Situation

1. Understanding Our Individualistic Cultural Bias

2. Why Economics Sees Markets Individualistically

3. Are Consumers Responsible for Injustices a World Away?

Part II: Critical Realism

4. Critical Realism and Natural Science

5. Social Structures

6. Power

7. The Market as a Social Structure

Part III: Implications

8. Sinful Social Structures

9. Economic Ethics in a Stratified World

10. What Can Be Done about Market Injustice?




About the Author