Philosophy and Social Criticism 35 (3):243-267 (2009)

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Abstract
In this article I rethink Rawls' conception of international economic justice, with a particular focus on international trade. I ground my normative argument on a different interpretation of the concepts of basic structure and of basic institution. I use the contemporary international trading system to illustrate my normative interpretation. I use the Law of Peoples to discuss the Rawlsian concept of basic structure. I contest Samuel Freeman's interpretation of this concept as one that pertains exclusively to the domestic realm. As a reply, I work out an interpretation of basic institutions valid for both the national and international context. I base my understanding on the impact and the form of membership that characterize basic institutions. Both properties are compatible with an extension of the concept of a basic institution to the international domain. I then show how the World Trade Organization (WTO) system can be compared to a domestic basic institution. I analyse the decisional setting that surrounds the choice of joining the WTO. I conclude that no real alternative exists. Hence, WTO membership is not to be considered a completely free policy choice. I also state that the new system is witnessing a strong expansion of the areas subject to trade governance. Such expansion is responsible for the growing impact that international trade has on domestic institutions and hence on people. Finally, I use my analysis of contemporary international trading relations to test Rawls' position in the Law of Peoples. I conclude that although Rawls' principles for fair trade and international cooperation can regulate GATT-style international trade, they are not proficient in assessing the new characteristics of international trade
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DOI 10.1177/0191453708100230
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References found in this work BETA

World Poverty and Human Rights.Thomas Pogge - 2002 - Ethics and International Affairs 19 (1):1-7.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Political Theory and International Relations.Charles Beitz - 1979 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
The Problem of Global Justice.Thomas Nagel - 2005 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (2):113-147.

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Citations of this work BETA

A Social Contract for International Business Ethics.Paul Neiman - 2013 - Journal of Business Ethics 114 (1):75-90.
Global Cities, Global Justice?Loren King & Michael Blake - 2018 - Journal of Global Ethics 14 (3):332-352.
The Law of Peoples: Beyond Incoherence and Apology.Pietro Maffettone - 2011 - Journal of International Political Theory 7 (2):190-211.

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Fairness in International Economic Cooperation: Moving Beyond Rawls’s Duty of Assistance.Sylvie Loriaux - 2012 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 15 (1):19-39.

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