Fair Trade: An Imperfect Obligation?





Fair Trade, Poverty, Exploitation, Imperfect Duty, Consequentialism


Fair Trade is under fire. Some critics argue, for instance, that there is no obligation to purchase Fair Trade certified products and that doing so may even be counter-productive. Others worry that well-justified conceptions of what makes trade fair can conflict. Yet others suggest that the common arguments for Fair Trade cannot justify purchasing Fair Trade certified goods, in particular. This paper starts by sketching one common argument for Fair Trade and defends it against this last line of criticism. In particular, it argues that we should purchase Fair Trade certified goods because doing so benefits the poor even though there are other ways to alleviate poverty. It then considers how other common arguments for Fair Trade fare in light of similar criticism and concludes that they may well succeed.