Private Agreements, Public Values
What are the moral limits on private agreements? In this seminar, we will ask whether some things should be excluded from the market entirely, and if so, how we should identify them. The sale of organs, or babies, for instance, is widely prohibited. But we might wonder whether this should be so, and if so, why. Assuming it should be so, what might this tell us about other goods that should be excluded from the market.
We will also assess the moral and legal features of employment relationships. Does a legal regime with a baseline assumption of at-will employment create, as Elizabeth Anderson has suggested, a kind of dictatorial "Private Government?" If so, how should our legal institutions respond? More generally, we will explore how the legal rules for giving effect to private agreements bear on other values that we might care about. Does the decision to treat some agreements as legally enforceable erode norms of democracy or rule of law?
Readings may include Michael Sandel's What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, Elizabeth Anderson's Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk about It), and Margaret Radin's Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law.
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