Just trade

Economic theory teaches us that it is in every country’s own best interest to engage in trade. Trade therefore is a voluntary activity among consenting parties. On this view, considerations of justice have little bearing on trade, and political philosophers concerned with matters of global justice should stay largely silent on trade. According to a very different view that has recently gained some prominence, international trade can only occur before the background of an existing international market reliance practice that is shaped by states. On this view, trade is a shared activity among states, and all participating states have in principle equal claims to the gains from trade. Trade then becomes a central topic for political philosophers concerned with global justice. The authors find fault with both of those views and argue instead for a third view about the role of a trade in a theory of global justice. That view gives pride of place to a (non- Marxian) notion of exploitation, which is developed here in some detail.