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David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill and other classical economists highlighted the important potential gains from specialization and trade. Today, economists refer to the concept of the terms of trade to analyze which trading party manages to obtain what share of those gains. From a normative perspective, trade is a prime example of what Rawls calls the “circumstances of justice”: trading parties have both overlapping interests—they can enhance their wealth through trade—and conflicting interests—they want to maximize their share of the gains from trade.

Mathias Risse and Gabriel Wollner’s book On Trade Justice provides us with a normative toolkit to assess what terms of trade can be considered just. Their analysis of justice in trade is not limited to trading relations between states, even though they recognize the important role that states play, but extends to the obligations that arise from trade for other actors such as corporations.

On Trade Justice represents an important and unique contribution to the growing literature on trade justice. The contributions to this special issue critically assess some of the central arguments put forward by Risse and Wollner. Encouraging this constructive dialogue on the different facets of trade represents one important step towards more just trading practices.

The goal of this brief introduction is twofold. First, we pick up on a number of fundamental questions raised by both Risse and Wollner and by the contributors to this special issue. Second, we provide a short overview of each of the articles.


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6 Jul 2023
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  • Subject
    • Human Rights Law

    • International Law

    • International Trade Law

    • Law and Society

  • Journal title
    • Moral Philosophy and Politics

  • Volume
    • 9

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Pagination
    • 1-10

  • Publisher
    • Walter de Gruyter GmbH

  • ISSN
    • 2194-5624

  • Date submitted

    6 July 2023

  • Digital Object Identifier (DOI) URL
  • Official Link