Voluntary Slavery and the Limits of the Market

Law and Ethics of Human Rights 3 (1):87-109 (2009)
This paper considers the normative assessment of bonded labor from the perspectives of libertarianism and Paretian welfare economics. I argue that neither theory can account for our objections to bonded labor arrangements; moreover, they fail in interesting ways. Reflecting on their normative failures focuses us on other considerations besides individual choice and efficiency. Such considerations include: the effects of labor markets on workers' preferences and capacities; the exploitation of the vulnerabilities of the poor; and the permanent binding of one person to another
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