Friday, May 22, 2020

What makes a market transaction morally repugnant? by Leuker, Samartzidis, and Hertwig

Here's a new working paper on repugnance, from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

What makes a market transaction morally repugnant?
Christina Leuker, Lasare Samartzidis, & Ralph Hertwig
April 23, 2020

Abstract: For many people, it is morally impermissible to put kidneys, jury duty exemptions, or permits for having children on the free market. All of these are examples of repugnant transactions—market transactions that third parties want to prevent. In two studies (N = 1,554), using respondents’ judgements of 51 different market transactions across 21 characteristics, we show that repugnance can be characterized along five higher-order dimensions: moral outrage, need for regulation, incommensurability, exploitation, and unknown risk. Repugnance toward the 51 market transactions was highly consistent across two samples. Our results can help identify mismatches between public sentiments and current regulations (selling carbon emissions is currently legal but considered repugnant), anticipate responses to novel markets that have not been publicly scrutinized (often arising from technological advances, such as markets for “designer babies”), and help design less repugnant markets (e.g., by making the risks involved in a transaction known to sellers).

And, in conclusion:

"Our studies have shown that perceived repugnance is quantifiable, and that market transactions can be profiled based on their underlying psychometric properties. The extent to which certain market transactions are considered repugnant is fairly stable across different respondent samples. Perhaps the most important finding from this research is that people’s judgments of a transaction’s repugnance can reflect a range of legitimate and important concerns. These concerns can be measured and possibly harnessed to predict how the public will perceive new, rapidly emerging transactions"

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