Philosophy of Free Trade  

2 ECTs / 12h / English

We are all familiar with economic arguments for and against free trade. In this seminar we will consider instead some moral arguments for, against, and just about trade. Of course, we should not expect that the moral and the economic can be entirely separated, so we will end up talking about both. Possible topics include: Is there a human right to trade? Is there (sometimes) a human right to be protected from the consequences of trade? Is the WTO legitimate? What is an externality? Are laws that restrain imports on the basis of the way they were produced extraterritorial in any objectionable sense, or coercive? Is there any real substance to the notion of international friendship mentioned in treaties of “friendship, commerce, and navigation”? Is there a moral obligation on existing WTO Members to admit new would-be members on reasonable terms? Is the nationality discrimination implicit in protectionism objectionable in the same way as race or sex discrimination? What is “discrimination”? Does the trade system give poor, or small, or developing countries a raw deal? This list is illustrative only, not exclusive.


Invited Professor
Donald Regan is the William W. Bishop, Jr.Collegiate Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy in the University of Michigan. Educated at Harvard…