From the Moral Limits of Markets to the Moral Limits of Welfare

Katherine Curchin*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    The political philosopher Michael Sandel (2012) has recently argued compellingly for more attention to the moral limits of markets, arguing that market values can crowd out other values we should care about. Meanwhile, conservative advocates for welfare reform, such as the Australian Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson, have raised concerns about the impact of long-term welfare receipt on community values. Pearson's argument about welfare can be articulated in similar terms to Sandel's argument about markets. Pearson maintains that in heavily disadvantaged communities - such as the Aboriginal communities of Cape York Peninsula - the state's provision of non-contributory welfare can crowd out important values such as trust, respect, care for the weak and mutual help as well as self-reliance and hard work. Though Sandel's and Pearson's arguments find receptive audiences on different ends of the political spectrum, the parallels between their arguments are striking. The article seeks to promote greater scholarly engagement with Pearson's moral critique of welfare while expressing scepticism about one of the key correctives he proposes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)101-118
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Social Policy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2015


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