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Fairness in International Commercial Transactions

Ostmann, NF; (2017) Fairness in International Commercial Transactions. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

My PhD thesis presents an account of transactional fairness as a moral constraint on the distribution of profits between firms in international supply chains. While recent work on global justice and exploitation has paid growing attention to distributive demands that arise in the context of international trade, both bodies of literature have been largely silent with respect to the prices at which goods are exchanged between businesses located in different national jurisdictions. My thesis aims to advance the debate by addressing this gap. I argue for the view that the choice of prices in such international commercial transactions represents an issue of moral concern and, engaging with the debate about the moral status of benefiting from injustice and different theories of exploitation, develop a distinctive account of the conditions under which prices in such transactions qualify as fair. The thesis proceeds in three parts. The first part makes the general case for the demand of transactional fairness in international commercial transactions by defending the claim that the prices at which goods are exchanged across national borders, typically in transactions between firms, are subject to the moral constraint that the economic benefits that they entail for each of the transacting parties be fair. The second part critically examines potential criteria for a moral assessment of prices that have been suggested elsewhere. These criteria can be categorised according to two types of approaches to conceiving of a fair price. In terms of possible counterfactual-procedural approaches, I consider the acceptability of a price in the absence of prior injustice and the correspondence of a price to the price that would emerge under conditions of perfect competition as possible criteria of fairness. As far as possible value-based approaches are concerned, I consider the suggestions that prices are fair insofar as they are equivalent to the cost of production or to the marginal revenue product of the good being exchanged. Having rejected these possibilities, the third part of the thesis turns to possible distributional conceptions of a fair price. This leads to the defence of the view that international commercial transactions are fair insofar as they entail equal degrees of profitability for the transacting firms.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Fairness in International Commercial Transactions
Event: UCL
Language: English
Keywords: global justice, international trade, transactional fairness
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1535841
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