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Institutionalized practices of collective justification are central for theorizing international fairness. Institutions matter because they play a significant part in the construal of fairness claims through the provision of internal standards for moral assessment. Conceptions of international fairness must spell out how collective justification works by addressing the jurisprudential and institutional issues at stake in the specification of the moral grounds for compliance with international institutions on the one hand and international civil disobedience on the other. Theoretical models of institutions that do not pay attention to collective justification are inadequate on fairness grounds. More specifically, mainstream neoliberal institutionalist accounts of international regimes are deeply problematic when used in the normative evaluation of international institutions, as they offer the wrong benchmark for moral assessment, given their roots in a brand of exchange theory that is blind to the distribution of burdens and benefits from cooperation.

Keywords: civil disobedience; environment; fairness; global justice; health; international ethics; international institutions; international law; international obligations; international regimes; jurisprudence; neoliberal institutionalism; practices of collective justification; trade

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Toronto, Department of Political Science, 100 St George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G3, Canada , Email:

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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