Global Justice, Special Relations, and the Basis of Consumer Duties
Globalization and free trade have opened up a worldwide market. This has increased consumer freedom, but at the same time has reduced possibilities for governments to safeguard production and consumption through legislation and regulatory policy. In the absence of such regulations, consumers can buy products produced far away with little respect for the human rights of the farmers and factory workers involved. In this context the question emerges what is morally required of consumers regarding the situation of those producing their goods. It can be asked whether there are any consumer duties, and, if so, why they arise (their basis), to whom they are owed (their scope), and which requirements for action they involve (their content). In this paper I will investigate the basis of consumer duties, that is, how such duties, if there are any, are grounded.
Moral duties regarding global poverty and human rights are usually thought of either in terms of ‘duties of justice’ or of ‘duties of humanity’. While the latter are considered universal, duties of justice are often thought to exist only towards those with whom we stand in some special kind of relation, e.g. the political relation between citizens of national states. While recently authors like Pogge, Cohen and Sabel and James have argued that in our globalized world the relevant kind of political relations exist globally, they nevertheless adopt the focus on political relations as generating duties of justice. However, given the above-sketched developments one may wonder whether the economic relations within our global economy may (also) generate specific duties beyond humanitarianism. This question is hardly discussed within the context of global justice. This paper aims to address this lacuna. It will be investigated to what extent economic relations indeed engender moral duties beyond humanitarianism, and if so, what their ground is.
I will use Sangiovanni´s distinction between non-relational conceptions of justice, on which considerations of distributive justice arise among persons as such, independent of any pre-existing social ties between them, and relational conceptions, on which they arise only between persons standing in some relevant kind of social or institutional relation. The paradigm case is that of the relation among fellow citizens in a national state. Different aspects of this political relation have been stressed as necessary conditions for justice to be at stake, such as the existence of a common sovereign power, a common national identity or reciprocal cooperation to maintain the state’s capacity to provide basic collective goods. In this paper a relational conception of justice will be taken as a starting point. That is, it will be granted that existing institutions or social practices may fundamentally alter the kind of social relations in which people stand, which makes that different distributive principles apply than would have been the case otherwise. It will be investigated whether economic rather than political relations might give rise to duties of (distributive) justice that have implications for consumer behaviour.
Filosofi, etik och religion ->
Filosofi, etik och religion ->