Snipers, Stalkers, and Nibblers: Online Auction Business Ethics

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Abstract

Spirited disagreement exists among online auction participants over the ethics of sniping: delaying one's bid until the closing seconds of an online auction. Through analysis of the structural features of online auctions and by deploying Rawls's (1955) distinction between justifying an action under a practice and justifying the practice itself, I argue that: (i) the disagreement is better conceived as one over the ethics of online auction hosting (and therefore, over business ethics) than over the ethics of online auction participation; (ii) so conceived, the argument against sniping is nonetheless implausible; and (iii) the disagreement remains interesting not on the merits, but for the curious fact that it is bidders who complain about sniping.

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics

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