Aaron James, "Investor Rights as Nonsense--On Stilts"

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Whitsett Room

Dr. Aaron James will give a lecture entitled "Investor Rights as Nonsense--On Stilts" on Wednesday May 3rd 4-6pm in the Whitsett Room. James works in political philosophy, moral theory, and ethics, and is the author of Fairness in Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy (OUP, 2012) and Assholes, A Theory of Donald Trump (Penguin, 2016). He has written about Rawls's constructive method, its neglected realist and interpretive aspects, and its application to social structures within and across major domestic institutions such as international trade. He is planning a book on the morality and political economy of distribution for a world of increasing ecological scarcity and lower growth rates. An abstract of James' talk is below.

"Investor Rights as Nonsense -- on Stilts"

This essay is about the recent, post-Nafta surge of bilateral trade agreements that set up investor-state adjudication. Investor treaties increasingly recognize a right to be compensated for “indirect expropriation.” This essay argues that certain ideas of foreign “investor rights” exhibit a certain confusion about the very nature of an investment, and the social relations of international trade that give risk-taking its social purpose. The argument develops both utilitarian and social contract theory positions, and challenges appeals to investor natural rights, especially natural promissory rights.