FAITH & ECONOMICS
NUMBER 72, Fall 2018
Against Market Complicity
Abstract: The doctrine of market complicity holds that entering into a trading relationship causes each party to take on some moral responsibility for the other parties’ actions. For example, consumers who buy goods made in sweatshops are guilty of abusing workers, and employers are guilty if their employees use their health insurance to terminate a pregnancy. I argue that this is not the case. The market nexus does not cause us to take on moral responsibility for decisions we are not empowered to make. Vendors should not discriminate against buyers with different religious or moral views, and employers should not try to constrain their employees’ personal moral choices. Consumer boycotts are unlikely to be effective unless they make political demands.
Keywords: Market Complicity, Boycotts
John P. Tiemstra