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Ethics, free trade, and culture: The case of Canada-U.S. free trade in periodicals.

Vandersluis, Sarah Blythe Owen (2000) Ethics, free trade, and culture: The case of Canada-U.S. free trade in periodicals. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis focuses on recent disputes between Canada and the United States about appropriate policies for free trade in cultural goods. It argues that the Canadian and American positions on free trade and culture can best be understood as normative positions, stemming from different perceptions of the nature of culture, the role of culture in social relations, the appropriate criteria for 'good' public policy, and the ideal relationship between culture and free trade. In this context, the relative validity of the different approaches to trade and culture is presented as a choice between competing values, the analysis of which is most appropriately located within the broad tradition of political theories of justice. On this basis, the thesis critically engages with the two positions (free trade and cultural protectionism), drawing out their ethics and showing the ways in which they can only partially comprehend the moral relevance of culture. The thesis takes the position that a normatively justifiable approach to culture and trade is one that begins from the ontological primacy of culture in the constitution of identity. This starting point is developed by drawing on the work of Charles Taylor. He rejects an atomist social ontology and develops instead a theory of identity as inseparable from qualitative judgements of worth. In turn, such judgements make no sense outside of a 'background language' that itself can only be developed in dialogue. As the thesis notes, Taylor's work presents numerous problems. However, his ontology can nonetheless be taken as a starting point for an analysis of culture and trade. Building on Taylor's theory, the thesis draws on Iris Marion Young's work on social justice to develop an ethics which is founded in respect for other cultural forms. This ethics stresses social equality, but broadens it beyond distributive concerns to include primarily the 'full participation and inclusion of everyone in society's major institutions, and the socially supported substantive opportunity for all to develop and exercise their capacities and realize their choices' (1990, p. 173). On this basis, the thesis makes specific suggestions for the revision of Canadian magazines policy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, International Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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