Global Investment Rules as a Site for Moral Inquiry

53 Pages Posted: 17 May 2019 Last revised: 16 Jul 2019

See all articles by Steven R. Ratner

Steven R. Ratner

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: December 25, 2018


The legal regime regulating cross-border investment gives key rights to foreign investors and places significant duties on states hosting that investment. It also raises distinctive moral questions due to its potential to constrain a state’s ability to manage its economy and protect its people. Yet international investment law remains virtually untouched as a subject of philosophical inquiry. The questions of international political morality surrounding investment rules can be mapped through the lens of two critiques of the law – that it systemically takes advantage of the global South and that it constrains the policy choices of states hosting investment. Each critique contains certain moral and empirical assumptions that deserve further attention. The distributive justice implications of international investment rules are also relevant to scholars of global distributive justice. The aim of the analysis is to develop an interdisciplinary agenda – among law, philosophy, and social science – for inquiry into the justice of investment law and reform of its unjust elements.

Keywords: international investment law, global justice, distributive justice, international courts, international law

Suggested Citation

Ratner, Steven R., Global Investment Rules as a Site for Moral Inquiry (December 25, 2018). Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2019; U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 637. Available at SSRN:

Steven R. Ratner (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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