• Unit 3: Morality, Markets, and Immanuel Kant

    John Locke and the libertarian philosophers he inspired held that justice and morality are a matter of respecting the fundamental rights that all individuals hold in common – life, liberty, and property (including the property of one's self). Libertarians such as Milton Friedman argue these principles are incompatible with the government placing restrictions on the free market. But what happens when the market itself brings our rights into conflict with one another? In this unit, we examine several case studies in which individual rights are disputed, and we consider whether these cases provide sufficient reason to doubt the libertarian position.

    Are individual rights enough to determine how to answer moral questions and how to propose a just society? Perhaps we need a more substantive philosophical approach to answer some of our moral and political questions. This is the position of Immanuel Kant, who suggests that we have certain moral obligations because we are human beings with moral reasoning capabilities. These capabilities lead to certain duties which we need to consider. We call Kant’s philosophy deontological, which means it is rooted in duty.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.

    • 3.1: The Morality of the Market

    • 3.2: The Morality of Surrogate Motherhood: The Case of Baby M

    • 3.3: Humans Organs as Commodities

    • 3.4: Grounding Moral Action in Rational Principles: Immanuel Kant

    • 3.5: Kant's Metaphysics of Morals

    • Unit 3 Discussion

    • Unit 3 Assessment