According to Sandel, price gouging occurs when the seller of a good or service sets a higher price than a realistic amount to gain profits for themselves during a crisis. For example, in the book Justice, Sandel talks about how hurricane Charley affected the prices of hotels and gas stations. These two had increased their prices to four times the rate during the disaster (Sandel,1). In the first chapter Sandel states that “the arguments for and against price gouging laws is based on maximizing welfare, respecting freedom and promoting virtue “(Sandel,6). Virtue is about morality and trying to do what is right and avoiding what is wrong. An example of virtue would be the trolley scenario. In the reading, it described a scenario where five people were lying on a track. The person can use the lever to switch the controls to save the five, but on the other sidetrack, there is one person. Would it be wrong to pull the lever and redirect the trolley to save five lives instead of one? Which would be morally right? In this case we choose the idea that gives us less harm, which is to redirect the trolley and save five lives. When looking at price gouging and virtue, greed is what puts the two together. According to Crist, price gougers are knowingly causing misery to the people who are in need because of their greed for money. In his argument he implied that during a crisis, people do not need to exploit their neighbours for financial gain. They must be virtuous and help others to make a good life (Sandel 7).
Sandel, Michael J. Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010