'Justice' by Michael Sandel: Chapter 4 Summary

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Assessment of Chapter 4

Chapter four in Sandel’s book “Justice” talks about markets and morals. In this chapter we consider the morality of paying people to perform different types of work such as fighting wars and bearing children. The question that stands is whether there should be a market, when money is involved, to the aspect of morality. One good example that Sandel portrays in this chapter is “Pregnancy for Pay.” Thinking through the rights and wrongs in this example helps clarify the differences among leading theories of justice. William and Elizabeth Stern arranged for a surrogate pregnancy because of failure to conceive their own, they signed a contract with a woman named Mary Beth Whitehead who agreed to artificially inseminated with Williams sperm. She would hold the child till birth and then return the baby when it is conceived. William would in return pay her $10,000 as well as cover the hospital fees. On March 1986, Mary Beth gave birth but then decided she couldn’t part with the child and fled to Florida. The police had found her and the Stern family went to trial. Now this is where market and morals come into play. The judge that was honoring the case had to decide whether enforcing the contract would be the right thing to do. Of course a deal is deal, two adults had formed a voluntary agreement that offered benefits to both parties. But then you might say that in this particular case, this obviously wasn’t any ordinary commercial deal. Mary Beth didn’t know her outcome of emotions for the baby and one can argue that her judgment was beclouded by the need of money. Also some people might find it objectionable to buy and sell babies. It can be argued that this practice can exploit women by treating pregnancy as a money making business, in which behavior enforces the concept of market and morality. In my opinion I believe that a deal is a deal nonetheless. If a person can’t withstand the agreement made then it shouldn’t have been made in

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