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The purpose of this thesis is to present a conception of commutative justice. Commutative justice is defined as that part of justice in transfer (as opposed to justice in acquisition as well as distributive or rectificatory justice), which deals with transferring goods via market exchanges. Thus, this thesis examines which conditions a market exchange has to fulfil in order to be called just. Whereas traditionally speaking conditions like non-coercion or non-deception have received most attention – i.e. conditions focusing on the act of exchanging itself – the thesis’ focus is a different one. It argues that we necessarily also have to take into account the consequences of a certain market exchange in order to judge whether it is just. Therefore, the thesis proceeds to analyze how problematic market outcomes like externalities, the formation of monopolies, violations of the Lockean proviso, inequality, and commodification affect the justice of the market exchanges which gave rise to them. The thesis finds that we need to broaden our conception of commutative justice – but only a little. Whereas the issues of externalities, violations of the Lockean proviso, and inequalities do not affect whether a certain market exchange is just, monopolization and commodification do. In order to be commutatively just, a market exchange must not only fulfil the traditional conditions of non-coercion, non-deception, etc., but it also must not bring about certain forms of monopoly nor further certain kinds of commodification. This conclusion leaves open the idea that, say, inequality or externalities could be relevant to distributive justice if not commutative justice.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2021-09-26
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 26th September 2021
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