In reading Is the Market Moral? (Brookings Institution Press, 2003), I have come across a passage containing what I suspect is a common misconception about markets.
"Unlike the market, which values people according to their resources and the productivity they bring to the market, Christian teachings on poverty ascribe value to a group that has no resources."
The problematic premise implicit in this statement is that ‘the market’ somehow bestows value and that the value it bestows is somehow absolute. But the ‘market’ is not a willful being; the market is a term for the free association of willful beings, namely persons. In the market — a particular sphere of human interaction — the involved persons do recognize certain types of value in other persons based on what those persons offer in that sphere. But recognition (or lack of it) of a person’s ‘value’ in a given sphere is not an absolute value judgment. The ontological value of the human person is inherent. But ‘market value’ is not the same as ‘ontological value’. The confusion comes with the word value: same word; different concepts.
Read more on Watch Your Language…