School of Theology and Seminary Faculty Publications

International Trade and Sustainable Community: Religious Values and Economic Arguments in Moral Debates

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1994


Arts and Humanities | Economics | Ethics in Religion | Religion | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The public policy debate about international trade has been marked by misunderstanding and oversimplification. This paper examines the most responsible arguments from the proponents of trade within mainstream economics and from the opponents of increased trade as represented by the bioregional perspective of Herman Daly and John Cobb in For the Common Good. Focusing on the environment, agriculture, and employment, the paper argues that even though Daly and Cobb offer an accurate critique of mainstream economics generally, they themselves at critical junctures misuse economic theory in moral argument and misinterpret two important long-term economic trends. As a result, their appeal to religious commitments in favor of community and sustainability does not warrant the case they make against international trade.