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A Response to D. Eric Schansberg

Patricia Donahue-White


I do not take issue with Schansbergs sage warning that dismissing economic analysis from social and political questions would be foolhardy and unproductive. In fact, I agree that in the case of adoptive babies, markets will function regardless of how they will be allowed to function. But it is just the question of hownot thatmarkets function, which concerns me. Schansberg raises many points worthy of further consideration, but, it seems to me, he neglects two significant moral questions with respect to economic analysis itself: What effect does market activity have on the general culture? and Can economic analysis adequately consider non-economic costs, particularly those having to do with moral, social, religious, and cultural values? While I do not take issue with the importance of measuring economic consequences to, say, the use of pesticides or the allocation of scarce organs among needy recipients, I do think economic analysis must be limited to oneamong manyway(s) of determining our values and expressing our preferences. To place economic analysis within the broader framework of genuine human development, we must first sketch out a general theory of culture and then examine the problems of individualism and consumerism, which seem to result from market activity.

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