IJAIR NAAS Score : 3.99 ,ISSN : 2319-1473

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The Assumption of Non-coerciveness and the Total Food Market

Harwood David Schaffer
For the last 46 years, the countries of the world have tried to reduce the number of chronically hungry people. Despite all the efforts, the numbers have barely budged from the over 850 million people who were chronically hungry in 1974 until the 2007-2009 and 2010-2011 food price crises, when the numbers jumped to well over 1 billion. The blame for this situation has variously been put on bad governance, the lack of adequate market reforms, the market reforms that were imposed on developing nations, and globalization. Food, like other products, is allocated using the market system. One likely place to look for the reason why international institutions have been unable to eliminate hunger, while operating within the market system, is the assumption of non-coerciveness. This assumption asserts that the market transaction—in this case for food—is freely entered into by both the buyer and the seller and that either can refuse to enter into the transaction if it is not to their advantage. After looking at the traditional understanding of coerciveness in economics, this paper examines the argument of Frank Knight and agrees that non-coerciveness is an issue of ethics. Using the work of Michael Keeley, this paper concludes that broadly accepted human rights is the best possible criterion for determining whether or not the aggregate food market is non-coercive. If the human right to food is abridged, then it can be said that the aggregate food market is coercive and the assumption of non-coerciveness for the aggregate food market does not hold. With 1.02 billion people chronically hungry, 1/6 of humanity, it is clear that the right to food has been abridged and the aggregate food market is coercive. This conclusion has serious implications for economic and trade policy and the current world hunger crisis.
Select Volume / Issue:
Year:
2012
Type of Publication:
Article
Keywords:
Coerciveness; ethics; human rights; hunger; non-coerciveness; right to food
Journal:
IJAIR
Volume:
1
Number:
2
Pages:
34-50
Month:
Sept.
ISSN:
2319-1473
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