On Trade Justice: A Philosophical Plea for a New Global Deal

ISBN : 9780198837411

Mathias Risse; Gabriel Wollner
288 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Oct 2019
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Trade has made the world. Still, trade remains an elusive and profoundly difficult area for philosophical thought. This novel account of trade justice makes ideas about exploitation central, giving pride of place to philosophical ideas about global justice but also contributing to moral disputes about practical questions. On Trade Justice is a philosophical plea for a new global deal, in continuation of, but also at appropriate distance to, post-war efforts to design a fair global-governance system in the spirit of the American New Deal of the 1930s. This book is written in the tradition of contemporary analytical philosophy but also puts its subject into a historical perspective to motivate its relevance. It covers the subject of trade justice from its theoretical foundations to a number of specific issues on which the authors' account throws light. The state as an actor in the domain of global justice is central to the discussion but it also explores the obligations of business extensively, recognizing the importance of the modern corporation for trade. Topics such as wages injustice, collusion with authoritarian regimes, relocation decisions, and obligations arising from interaction with suppliers and sub-contractors all enter prominently. Another central actor in the domain of trade is the World Trade Organization. The WTO needs to see itself as an agent of justice. This book explores how this organization should be reformed in light of the proposals it makes. In particular, the WTO needs to endorse a human-rights and development-oriented mandate. Overall, this book hopes to make a theoretical contribution to the creation of an exploitation-free world.


1 The Political Significance and Philosophical Complexities of Trade
Part 1 - Trade Justice
2 Towards a New Global Deal
3 Images of Trade
4 Trade as One Ground of Justice
5 Exploitation as Unfairness Through Power
6 The Moral Force of Exploitation
Part 2 - Seeing like a State
7 The State as an Agent of Trade Justice
8 A Much-Needed Organization: Rethinking the WTO
9 Domestic Trade Policies in an Interconnected World
10 A Step into the Wrong Direction: Mega-Regionalism
Part 3 - Seeing like a Corporation
11 Theorizing the Firm
12 Dealing with Workers: The Question of Wages
13 Dealing with Communities: The Relocation of Jobs
14 Dispersed Responsibility: Cooperating with Other Firms and Authoritarian States
15 Conclusion: What Can Be Done?

About the author: 

Mathias Risse is Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Administration and Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. His work primarily addresses questions of global justice - human rights, inequality, taxation, trade and immigration, climate change, obligations to future generations, and the future of technology. He has also worked on questions in ethics, decision theory, and 19th c. German philosophy. He also teaches in Harvard College, the Harvard Extension School, and is affiliated with the Harvard philosophy department. Risse is the author of On Global Justice and Global Political Philosophy. He serves as Co-Director of Graduate Studies at the Edmond J Safra Center for Ethics, as well as Director of the McCloy program. He has been a visiting professor at the National University of Singapore, New York University Abu Dhabi, and Leuphana University. Risse studied in Bielefeld, Pittsburgh, and Jerusalem.
Gabriel Wollner is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Bayreuth. His academic interests are in political philosophy and ethics, and the application of these inquiries to various issues in public policy and economics. Previous work has appeared in The Journal of Political Philosophy
Politics, Philosophy and Economics
The Journal of Social Philosophy, Review of Social Economy. Wollner studied at the universities of Oxford and Harvard and earned his PhD from University College London in 2011. Prior to joining the University of Bayreuth, he was Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the London School of Economics and Junior Professor in Political Philosophy at Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin.

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