Social Theory and Practice 41 (3):505-526 (2015)

James Christensen
University of Essex
In this paper I criticize the claim that fair trade entails a commitment to an ideal of formal equality according to which all members of the trade regime are to receive and offer equal, or uniform, treatment. I first elaborate on the idea of formal equality and its rationales, identify several positive arguments for departing from formal equality, and respond to a number of objections to “special and differential treatment” for poor countries. I then consider in more detail one specific element of formal equality in the trade regime, namely, the principle of reciprocity. Several distinct reciprocity principles are identified, none of which, I argue, should be regarded as a requirement of fairness. Next I consider a more recent interpretation of formal equality that requires trading countries to “harmonize” domestic laws and policies. I argue that harmonization is not required by fairness.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Social and Political Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0037-802X
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract201541326
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Justice and International Trade.Helena de Bres - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (10):570-579.
Odious Debts and International Fair Trade.Cristian Dimitriu - 2019 - Daimon: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 76:79-94.
Freedom and Justice in Trade Governance.Sarah C. Goff - 2020 - Ethics and International Affairs 34 (3):401-412.

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