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Price gouging and the duty of easy rescue

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2020

Elizabeth Brake*
Philosophy Department, Rice University, MS 14, Houston, Texas77251-1892, USA


What, if anything, is wrong with price gouging? Its defenders argue that it increases supply of scarce necessities; critics argue that it is exploitative, inequitable and vicious. In this paper, I argue for its moral wrongness and legal prohibition, without relying on charges of exploitation, inequity or poor character. What is fundamentally wrong with price gouging is that it violates a duty of easy rescue. While legal enforcement of such duties is controversial, a special case can be made for their legal enforcement in this context. This account distinguishes, morally, price gouging by corporations from that of individual entrepreneurs.

© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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