Individuating Goods on Markets with a View Towards Ethics and Economics


  • Joshua Stein University of Calgary



philosophy, economics, ethics, transformable goods, markets, metaphysics


This paper proposes that goods (the things exchanged in financial transactions and an object of study in economics) should be individuated according to a two-place relation constituted by an object and a description. Several of the problems in contemporary philosophy of economics involve shifting focus from objects to descriptions, while certain phenomena central to micro-economics, market regulation, and political economy require consideration of one of the two places. The paper argues thatby considering both constituents in a relation, many of those issues can be more effectively addressed, communicated, and even resolved. The issues that may be so resolved include the seminal discussions of transformable goods, or goods whose existenceor relevant properties are impacted by their means of acquisition (e.g., buying, giving, awarding, etc.). The two-place approachto individuation shows how the cases of transformable goods can be more effectively addressed without incurring problematicmetaphysical commitments which may spiral out into confusion in the ethical and social scientific literature. The paper thenargues that the two-place approach can be leveraged into more fruitful discussion in microeconomics and the ongoing literature inthe metaphysics and ethics of markets.


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