Steinberg on Heath on Non-Ideal Markets

The Inapplicability of the Market-Failures Approach in a Non-Ideal World by Etye Steinberg

A COMMENTARY ON Joseph Heath (2014), Morality, Competition, and the Firm: The Market Failures Approach to Business Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

Joseph Heath (2014) argues that the contribution of competitive markets to Pareto-efficiency generates moral constraints that apply to business managers. Heath argues that ethical behavior on the part of management consists in avoiding profit-seeking strategies which, under conditions of perfect competition, would decrease Pareto-efficiency. I argue that because (1) such conditions do not obtain; and (2) the most efficient result – under imperfect conditions – is not achieved by satisfying the largest possible set of the remaining conditions; it is (3) impossible to draw any substantive ethical guidelines from Heath’s approach.

To download the full PDF, click here: Steinberg on Heath

Etye Steinberg is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He holds a BA in Philosophy, Economics, and Political Science (PEP), and an MA in Philosophy, both from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he has also been a lecturer.