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Title: Fair Trade: The Responsibilities of Consumers, Corporations, and States
Authors: Goff, Sarah Carlson
Advisors: Beitz, Charles R.
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: exploitation
fair trade
foreign aid
global justice
international trade
Subjects: Political Science
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The concept of fair trade confronts us in various guises: for consumers, it appears as a fair trade label on products; for individual affiliates of corporations, it has a presence in principles of corporate social responsibility; for politically engaged citizens, it features in public criticisms of the global trade regime. But what is fair trade? How does it relate to individuals' responsibilities and choices? To answer these questions, my dissertation makes two main arguments. First, I describe a market-based standard of fairness in trade, and argue that many international trades are exploitative because they fail to meet this standard. Individuals often have claims to enjoy benefits that they do not have in reality, and these unmet claims can have an unfavorable influence on their trades. In my view, all individuals have claims to enjoy the benefits of membership in competent, inclusive, and rights-respecting societies. Many members of poor and illiberal societies have unmet claims for international assistance to help them enjoy these benefits. Many members of poor and illiberal societies agree to international trades with unfair prices and disrespectful terms, due to their unmet claims for assistance. Second, my dissertation specifies ethical guidelines for how individuals should act in accordance with their responsibilities for exploitative trade, in their roles as consumers, affiliates of corporations, and citizens. Individuals can be responsible for their personal engagement in exploitative trade, and they also can be responsible for having enabled the occurrence of exploitative trade in general. I describe exploitation in international trade through case studies of the coffee industry and the textiles and apparel industry, and provide ethical guidelines for how consumers and affiliates of corporations should act in these kinds of cases. I also argue that citizens of relatively wealthy, liberal societies should advocate for their states to adopt what I call a fair trade policy. A fair trade policy offers to reduce existing barriers to trade, on the condition that the state's poor and/or illiberal trading partners reform their institutions to meet minimal standards of competency, inclusiveness, and respect for rights.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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