In The Impact of Fair Trade. pp. 239-250 (2008)

Authors
Jos Philips
Utrecht University
Abstract
Could there be a moral duty for consumers to buy fair trade products? Even more dramatically, could there be a moral duty for governments to support fair trade products? This essay argues that the answer to both questions may well be affirmative – where I am thinking of consumers and governments of (relatively) affluent countries such as Western countries. In relation to the first question, the existence of a moral duty to buy fair trade products goes against the idea that, in their consumer behavior, individuals are morally free to choose as they please or prefer. In relation to the second question, the existence of a moral duty for governments to support fair trade products goes against the idea that governments should not interfere with markets, among other things because these markets are thought of as devices that give voice to consumer preferences. In this essay, I will try to show why despite such doubts, there may still be a moral duty for consumers to buy and for governments to support fair trade products. By fair trade products I shall mean products that take account of some minimal standard of protection for producers, and possibly also for the environment.
Keywords ethics  moral duties  Fair Trade  contractualism  consequentialism  individuals  goverments
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