Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

What's the Matter with Price Gouging?

  • Jeremy Snyder
Abstract:

When prices for basic commodities increase following a disaster, these price increases are often condemned as 'price gouging.’ In this paper, I discuss what moral wrongs, if any, are most reasonably ascribed to accusations of price gouging. This discussion keeps in mind both practical and moral defenses of price increase following disasters. I first examine existing anti-gouging legislation for commonalities in their definitions of gouging and then present arguments in favor of the permissibility of gouging, focusing on the economic benefits of price increases following disasters. I argue that gouging takes the form of a specific failure of respect for persons by undercutting equitable access to essential goods. While I discuss anti-gouging legislation throughout this paper, my aim is to give an account of the moral wrongs associated with gouging rather than guidance for developing morally defensible anti-gouging legislation.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Anderson, Elizabeth. 1993. Value in ethics and economics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Anderson, Elizabeth. 2004. Ethical assumptions in economic theory: Some lessons from the history of credit and bankruptcy. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 7: 347–60.
Brewer, Michael. 2007. Planning disaster: Price gouging statutes and the shortages they create. Brooklyn Law Review, 72: 1101–37.
Elliott, Janet. 2008. Two hotels face lawsuits for raising rates. The Houston Chronicle (October 3).
Federal Trade Commission. 2006. Investigation of gasoline price manipulation andpost-Katrina gasoline price increases. http://www.ftc.gov/reports/060518PublicGasolinePricesInvestigationReportFinal.pdf.
Friedman, Milton. 1962. Capitalism and freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hayek, Friedrich. 1945. The use of knowledge in society. American Economic Review, 35(4): 519–30.
Hill, Thomas. 1991. Autonomy and self-respect. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Jackson Sun. 2008. Go after those who may be price gouging. The Jackson Sun (September 17).
Jacoby, Jeff. 2004. Bring on the ‘price gougers.The Boston Globe (August 22): F11.
Kittay, Eva. 1999. Love's labor: Essays on women, equality, and dependency. New York: Routledge.
McCarthy, Michael. 2004. After the storm come the vultures. USA Today (August 20): 6B.
Nussbaum, Martha. 2000. Women and human development. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Page, Edward, & Cho, Min. 2006. Price gouging 101: A call to Florida lawmakers to perfect Florida's price gouging law, Florida Bar Journal, 80: 4952.
Raghunathan, Abhi. 2005. South Florida shortages fuel black market. St. Petersburg Times (October 29): 1B.
Ramasastry, Anita. 2005. Assessing anti-price-gouging statutes in the wake of hurricane Katrina: Why they're necessary in emergencies, but need to be rewritten. Findlaw (September 15). Available at http://writ.news.findlaw.com/ramasastry/20050916.html.
Rapp, Geoffrey. 2005/2006. Gouging: Terrorist attacks, hurricanes, and the legal and economic aspects of post-disaster price regulation. Kentucky Law Journal, 94: 535–60.
Reader, Soran. 2003. Distance, relationship and moral obligation. The Monist, 86: 367–81.
Rockoff, Hugh. 2002. Price controls. In David, R. Henderson (Ed.), The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc. Available at http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PriceControls.html.
Rushing, J. Taylor. 2004. Storms stir up price gouging. Florida Times-Union (September 18): A1.
Satz, Debra. 2007. Liberalism, economic freedom, and the limits of markets. Social Philosophy and Policy, 24: 120–40.
Sen, Amartya. 1992. Inequality reexamined. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as freedom. New York: Knopf.
Skarbek, Brian R., & Skarbek, David B. 2008. The price is right: Regulation, reputation, and recovery. Dartmouth Law Journal, 6(2): 235–76.
Smith, Adam. 1976 (1776). An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. Ed. Campbell, R. H., Andrew, Skinner, and Todd, W. B.. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Snyder, Jeremy. 2008. Needs exploitation. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 11: 389405.
Taylor, Jerry. 2005. Gouge on. National Review Online (September 2). http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/taylor200509022359.asp.
Treaster, Joseph. 2004. With storm gone, Floridians are hit with price gouging. New York Times (August 18): A1.
Waldron, Jeremy. 2003. Who is my neighbor?: Humanity and proximity. The Monist, 86: 333–54.
Wall Street Journal. 2005. In praise of ‘gouging.’ Wall Street Journal (September 7): A16.
Wertheimer, Alan. 1996. Exploitation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Zwolinski, Matt. 2008. The ethics of price gouging. Business Ethics Quarterly, 18: 347–78.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Business Ethics Quarterly
  • ISSN: 1052-150X
  • EISSN: 2153-3326
  • URL: /core/journals/business-ethics-quarterly
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed