Outcomes Assessment in Trade Policy Analysis: A Note on the Welfare Propositions of the "Gains from Trade"

By Reinert, Kenneth A. | Journal of Economic Issues, December 2004 | Go to article overview

Outcomes Assessment in Trade Policy Analysis: A Note on the Welfare Propositions of the "Gains from Trade"


Reinert, Kenneth A., Journal of Economic Issues


It is rarely acknowledged that any of a number of what ethicists term objects of value could be used for outcomes assessment in trade policy analysis. These might include consumption of various commodities and services, workplace qualities, environmental outcomes, or certain human functionings. In practice, however, trade economists have embraced what Jagdish Bhagwati, Arvind Panagriya, and T. N. Srinivasan (1998) have accurately termed the "traditional" approach, in which the only recognized object of value is the utility of consumption levels of commodities and services. In practice (e.g., in applied trade policy modeling), there is a further restriction to legally consumed commodities and services, a distinction which, in light of significant international flows in illegal drugs, weaponry, and sexual services, is not as insignificant as one might first believe. Interestingly, there has been no real attempt to justify the identification of the utility of consumption of legally consumed commodities and services as the most appropriate choice, and this note makes no such attempt. Rather, it simply makes explicit some key welfare propositions underlying the traditional approach to what international economists term the gains from trade, widely acknowledged to be the most fundamental analytical contribution of international economics.1 Making explicit these welfare propositions has the advantage of revealing why certain controversies in contemporary international trade policy have arisen. In short, these controversies reflect differences over appropriate objects of value.

It is worth repeating that, in principle, appropriate objects of value for trade policy analysis could include consumption of various commodities and services, workplace qualities, environmental outcomes, or certain human functionings. International trade theory rejects all but one of these potential evaluative spaces. In what follows, we try to trace the rejection process and relate it to accepted perspectives in moral philosophy. This process consists of the following steps: teleological restriction, subjectivist assertion, and objectivist limitations, the last two co-existing uncomfortably from a methodological perspective. In what follows, we take up each of these steps in turn.

Teleological Restriction

To make the issue at hand apparent, we begin this section with a quotation. Paul Taylor has written, "All organisms, whether conscious or not, are teleological centers of life in the sense that each is a unified, coherently ordered system of goal-oriented activities that have a constant tendency to protect and maintain the organism's existence" (1986, 122). This is a key proposition in the field of environmental ethics and one broadly recognized (if not always accepted) in modern moral philosophy. International trade theory rejects this view, however, asserting a teleological restriction in which only human beings serve as welfare subjects for the purpose of outcomes assessment. To put it another way, trade theory takes on what J. Baird Callicott called an "anthropocentric value theory" that "confers intrinsic value on human beings and regards all other things, including other forms of life, as being only instrumentally valuable" (1984, 299).

Since these considerations are so foreign to international trade theory, it is worth noting that there are indeed articulated, nonanthropocentric value systems such as conativism, theism (stewardship), rational holism, and sentimentalism. (2) The last of these is most closely aligned with economic analysis, being grounded in the work of David Hume and Adam Smith, and implicitly deployed in contingent valuation analysis of environmental issues.

The teleological restriction of trade theory is significant from both methodological and practical perspectives. To take two examples relevant to World Trade Organization disputes, dolphins and turtles do not count as welfare subjects in the gains from trade analysis. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Outcomes Assessment in Trade Policy Analysis: A Note on the Welfare Propositions of the "Gains from Trade"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.