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Taboo trade-offs, sacred values and the moral limits of markets

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posted on 2022-03-28, 09:50 authored by Craig Ian MacMillan
Globalisation is a process by which local and national markets become increasingly integrated within the global economic system. Not only are markets becoming more global,but the reach of the market is extending further into the lives of individuals and communities,with areas of life traditionally part of the non-market realm being absorbed into the economy.The moral judgements that individuals and communities make about what can and cannot be sold in markets constitute a moral limit on the reach of markets in society. This thesis has drawn on research primarily from the fields of social cognition and decision making to explore the moral limits of markets. In particular, it has utilized concepts and theoretical frameworks associated with the study of sacred or protected values to shed light on what underlies these moral judgements and to test the flexibility of these judgements. The thesis comprises three major studies and a pilot study: Study 1 used the sacred value protection model and showed that sacred values underlie trade-offs regarded as taboo. It also demonstrated that under certain conditions efforts to undermine sacred values backfire and actually strengthen both the trade-off resistance of sacred values and the boundary between the non-market and market realms. By contrast, Study 2 explored the problem of the shortage of kidneys for medical transplant that sits at the boundary between the non-market and market realms. The study found that moral judgements about the acceptability of market-based solutions to the kidney shortage were far more flexible than the results of the first study suggested. Study 3 examined whether manipulating the time people had to make moral judgements about proposed market exchanges increased their acceptability, and it was found that it did not. Overall, the thesis found that sacred values are an important determinant of the boundary between the non-market and market realms, but that judgements about the moral acceptability of market exchanges are quite context sensitive.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Study 1 - The sacred value protection model and the boundary between the non-market and market realms -- Chapter 3. Pilot study -- Chapter 4. Study 2 - Moral judgements about market-based solutions to the kidney shortage -- Chapter 5. Study 3 - Time and moral judgement about live kidney markets -- Chapter 6. General discussion -- Chapter 7. Appendices -- References.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 227-241

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Colin Wastell

Additional Supervisor 1

Mark Wiggins


Copyright Craig Ian MacMillan 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




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