Book Chapter

How Fundamental is the Right to Freedom of Exchange?



Cruft R (2019) How Fundamental is the Right to Freedom of Exchange?. In: Queralt J & van der Vossen B (eds.) Economic Liberties and Human Rights. Political Philosophy for the Real World. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 259-274.

This chapter asks two questions about the moral right to be allowed to engage in free market exchanges. The first question is how important this right is: in particular, when it should prevail in conflicts with other rights. The second question is how context-dependent this right is: how deep in our nature are the interests that make this moral right exist: interests in being unimpeded in exchanging or making gifts, subject to one’s recipient’s consent. Both questions have a bearing on the further issue of whether the right to freedom of exchange is a “human right.” The aim is to find the correct place for freedom of exchange in relation to such rights as political participation, freedom of association, health, education, life. My nuanced conclusion will be that in many but not all ways exchange is less fundamental: its existence and importance are rather more dependent on context, and the results of exchanges are systemically overridden by a certain class of rights. But this will turn out to depend on fairly “brute” intuitive claims; further, this result leaves the right nonetheless with real significance as a vitally important right in the modern world—a significance we need both to remember and avoid overstating.

Title of seriesPolitical Philosophy for the Real World
Publication date20/05/2019
Publisher URL…ok/9781138574397
Place of publicationAbingdon
ISBN 978-1138574397

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Professor Rowan Cruft

Professor Rowan Cruft

Professor, Philosophy