The Moral Problem of Fair Trade

Better Essays
1. Summary
The present economy is not based on one country or even two; it is global and its “profits now” mentality threatens to destroy small scale producers who get in the way. Small farmers and producers have little hope of competing with corporate powerhouses and are left with little resources or prospects for their future. Many third world children have little choice but to work rather than attend school for an education and end up being exploited all in the name of revenue returns. Fair Trade was introduced to balance this inequality and help exploited producers break free of the vicious cycle of poverty. This paper tackles the moral problem of fair trade.

There exists a dilemma here, with respect to the role of corporate actors within our society; do they serve to increase profits only, or are they bound by a different morality? The role of business in society has to be understood in the context that a business is not an entity capable of action, no matter what the purpose of its formation was. A business, ultimately, is a group of resources, including people, and those people are not separate from society as a whole, indeed, they are society as a whole. The principles of both consequentialism and Kantian morality are applied to the problem of fair trade and it is determined that despite the enduring popularity of the "corporations are engines for profit" mentality, it is a view that is at odds with the prevailing ethics of our society. While the distributive justice principle at the heart of fair trade is in line with the values of the majority of our society there still exist many unanswered questions which belie its ability for aiding the underdog producer.

2. Moral Problem
The concept of fair trade arose in the We...

... middle of paper ...

...r country. The categorical imperative with respect to fair trade therefore can only be interpreted as being in support of the fair trade element of distributive justice, lending strength to the idea that fair trade pricing is the right thing to do.

Works Cited

Blake, Michael & Patrick Smith. "International distributive justice" Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 24 October 2013. Web.

Friedman, Milton. "The social responsibility of business is it increase its profits." New York Times Magazine. 13 September 1970: Print.

Johnson, Robert. "Kant's moral philosophy" Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 6 April 2008. Web.

Miller, David. "Fair trade: What does it mean and why does it matter?" CSSJ Working Papers Series, SJO13. November 2010. Web.

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. "Consequentialsim" Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 27 September 2011. Web.
Get Access