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Consequentialism, Indirect Effects and Fair Trade




In this article I consider two consequentialist positions on whether individuals in affluent countries ought to purchase Fair Trade goods. One is a narrow argument, which asserts that individuals should purchase Fair Trade goods because this will have positive direct effects on poverty reduction, by, for example, channelling money into development. I argue that this justification is insufficient to show that individuals should purchase Fair Trade goods because individuals could achieve similar results by donating money to charity and, therefore, without purchasing Fair Trade goods. The second position has a wider focus. It notes both the direct effects of purchasing Fair Trade goods and possible indirect effects, such as the impact this might have on other individuals. I argue that certain actions, of which Fair Trade is one example, will be more likely to encourage individuals who would not otherwise contribute to poverty reduction to contribute and that this may produce additional positive value. Although space prohibits specific conclusions about Fair Trade, I note that considerations of this kind could give us reason to purchase such goods beyond those that issue from the direct effects of doing so and that, as such, they are crucial for determining whether individuals should purchase Fair Trade goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Walton, Andrew, 2012. "Consequentialism, Indirect Effects and Fair Trade," Utilitas, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(01), pages 126-138, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:utilit:v:24:y:2012:i:01:p:126-138_00

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