Autarky as a moral baseline

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (2):264-285 (2014)
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In his account of fairness in international trade, Aaron James distinguishes autarkic gains from the gains of trade. Since the autarkic gains are external to the practice of trade, James's account allows each country to keep these gains. The gains of trade, in contrast, must be distributed equally. This distinction suffers from three problems. First, James's autarkic adjustment not only allows inequalities to persist, but exacerbates and creates new ones. Second, there is no non-morally arbitrary way to determine the autarkic gains. Finally, by favouring his account over more egalitarian options, James does not merely set autarkic gains aside as external to the practice of trade but rather implicitly endorses a moral entitlement to autarkic gains without argumentation.



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Kristi A. Olson
Bowdoin College

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