About this topic
Summary A exploits B when A takes advantage of B in a certain kind of way. Usually, exploitation is held to involve taking unfair advantage. But this raises numerous questions about how, precisely, unfairness should be understood, and about what sort of moral implications a finding of unfairness generates. What procedures or substantive outcomes render a transaction between A and B unfair? Can an interaction between A and B be exploitative because of the unjust ways in which C has treated B, or are such third-party actions irrelevant? Does exploitation violate rights? Should it be legally prohibited? Are activities like organ sales, sweatshop labor, price gouging, and payday loans exploitative? And if so, what follows?
Key works Prior to the late 1980s, most philosophical work on exploitation focused on Karl Marx's influential theory of the exploitation of workers under capitalism - see, e.g., Cohen 1979, Arneson 1981, Roemer 1985. In the mid-1990s, Alan Wertheimer's important book, Exploitation, helped to bring interest and attention to the concept as a important moral concept not necessarily tied to Marx's particular framework. Rival theoretical accounts have been proposed by Wood 1995, Sample 2003 and Steiner 1984. Much of the literature on exploitation has developed in the context of the analysis of particular moral problems, such as sweatshops, a basic income, and clinical research on vulnerable populations.
Introductions Alan Wertheimer's entry on exploitation at the Stanford Encyclopedia provides a helpful overview of the topic. His 1996 book, and Ruth Sample's later book, also provide good, highly readable introductions.
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  1. Mortgagee's Power of Sale [Book Review].Benjamin Adams - 2013 - Ethos: Official Publication of the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory 228:41.
  2. Zimmerman on Coercive Wage Offers.Lawrence A. Alexander - 1983 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 12 (2):160-164.
  3. Self-Liquidating Wages.Hans Apel - forthcoming - Social Research.
  4. Exploited Consent.David Archard - 1994 - Journal of Social Philosophy 25 (3):92--101.
    The article considers whether a professional's sexual relations with a client are wrong, even if the client's consent is not coerced, incapacitated or manipulated, the impartial conduct of professional affairs is not interfered with, and there are no damaged third parties. It argues that consent may be ``exploited'' if it is forthcoming only due to the occupancy of respective positions within an unequal relationship whose scope excludes such intimacy. The article explains the use of the term, exploited', and exposes those (...)
  5. Exploitation and Outcome.Richard Arneson - 2013 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (4):392-412.
    Exploitation is interacting with another in a way that takes unfair advantage of that person. Exploitation is thought to be morally wrong even when it would bring about the best attainable outcome, hence conflicts with the consequentialist morality that holds one ought always to do whatever would bring about the best outcome. This essay aims to reconcile norms against exploitation and act consequentialism. A puzzle about exploitation is raised and resolved.
  6. International Clinical Trials Are Not Inherently Exploitative.Richard J. Arneson - 2013 - In Arthur L. Caplan & Robert Arp (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Bioethics. Wiley. pp. 25--485.
  7. Exploitation. Alan Wertheimer.Richard J. Arneson - 2001 - Mind 110 (439):888-891.
  8. Commodification and Commerical Surrogacy.Richard J. Arneson - 1992 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 21 (2):132-164.
  9. What's Wrong with Exploitation?Richard J. Arneson - 1981 - Ethics 91 (2):202-227.
  10. Exploitation and the Sweatshop Quandary.Denis G. Arnold - 2003 - Business Ethics Quarterly 13 (2):243-256.
  11. Sweatshops and Respect for Persons.Denis G. Arnold & Norman E. Bowie - 2005 - Journal of Philosophical Research 30:165-188.
    Most shoppers like bargains. Do bargains come at the expense of workers in sweatshops around the world? The authors argue that many large multinational corporations are running the moral equivalents of sweatshops and are not properly respecting the rights of persons. They list a set of minimum standards of safety and decency that they claim all corporations should meet. Finally, they defend their call for improved working conditions by replying to objections that meeting improved conditions will cause greater harm than (...)
  12. Sweatshops and Respect for Persons.Denis G. Arnold & Norman E. Bowie - 2003 - Business Ethics Quarterly 13 (2):221-242.
    This article applies the Kantian doctrine of respect for persons to the problem of sweatshops. We argue that multinational enterprises are properly regarded as responsible for the practices of their subcontractors and suppliers. We then argue that multinationalenterprises have the following duties in their off-shore manufacturing facilities: to ensure that local labor laws are followed; to refrain from coercion; to meet minimum safety standards; and to provide a living wage for employees. Finally, we consider and reply to the objection that (...)
  13. Beyond Sweatshops: Positive Deviancy and Global Labour Practices.Denis G. Arnold & Laura P. Hartman - 2005 - Business Ethics 14 (3):206–222.
  14. Beyond Sweatshops: Positive Deviancy and Global Labour Practices.Denis G. Arnold & Laura P. Hartman - 2005 - Business Ethics: A European Review 14 (3):206-222.
  15. Equality and Exploitation in the Market Socialist Community.N. Scott Arnold - 1992 - Social Philosophy and Policy 9 (1):1.
    Historically, critics of capitalism have had a great deal to say about the defects and social ills that afflict capitalist society and correspondingly little to say about how alternative institutional arrangements might solve these problems. One can only speculate about why this has been so. One reason might be a simple matter of priorities. Bertolt Brecht once said that when a man's house is on fire, one does not inquire too closely into alternative arrangements for shelter. The analogy between capitalism (...)
  16. Alan Wertheimer, From Coercion (1987).Coercion as Contextual - 2007 - In Ian Carter, Matthew H. Kramer & Hillel Steiner (eds.), Freedom: A Philosophical Anthology. Blackwell.
  17. Max Wertheimer's Contribution to Modern Psychology.Solomon E. Asch - forthcoming - Social Research.
  18. Money, Consent, and Exploitation in Research.Richard E. Ashcroft - 2001 - American Journal of Bioethics 1 (2):62-63.
  19. The Case of Guest Workers: Exploitation, Citizenship and Economic Rights.Daniel Attas - 2000 - Res Publica 6 (1):73--92.
    Working from a "capitalist" theory of exploitation, based on a neo-classical account of economic value, I argue that guest workers are exploited. It may be objected, however, that since they are not citizens, any inequality that stems from their status as non-citizens is morally unobjectionable. Although host countries are under no moral obligation to admit guest workers as citizens, there are independent reasons that call for the extension of economic rights – the freedom of occupation in particular – to guestworkers. (...)
  20. Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production by Barry Hindess and Paul Q. Hirst. [REVIEW]Rod Aya - 1976 - Theory and Society 3 (4):623.
  21. The Nonworseness Claim and the Moral Permissibility of Better-Than-Permissible Acts.Adam D. Bailey - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (2):237-250.
    Grounded in what Alan Wertheimer terms the nonworseness claim, it is thought by some philosophers that what will be referred to herein as better-than-permissible acts —acts that, if undertaken, would make another or others better off than they would be were an alternative but morally permissible act to be undertaken—are necessarily morally permissible. What, other than a bout of irrationality, it may be thought, would lead one to hold that an act (such as outsourcing production to a sweatshop in a (...)
  22. On Hillel Steiner’s “A Liberal Theory of Exploitation”.Sameer Bajaj - 2015 - Ethics 125 (4):1157-1159.
  23. Alan Wertheimer, Consent to Sexual Relations. [REVIEW]Brenda Baker - 2004 - Philosophy in Review 24:382-384.
  24. Alan Wertheimer, Consent to Sexual Relations Reviewed By.Brenda M. Baker - 2004 - Philosophy in Review 24 (5):382-384.
  25. Exploitation in Cross-Border Reproductive Care.Angela Ballantyne - 2014 - International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 7 (2):75-99.
    This paper will focus on a subcategory of cross-border reproductive care—commercial contracts for the sale of reproductive goods and services. In these cases, the women are paid a fee for their reproductive goods and services . Such contracts have generated widespread concern about exploitation. Yet the term exploitation is used variably in the literature and conflated with concerns about harm, commodification, lack of autonomy of sellers, unjust conditions of poverty, and invalid consent. It is also often assumed that exploitation should (...)
  26. Benefits to Research Subjects in International Trials: Do They Reduce Exploitation or Increase Undue Inducement?Angela Ballantyne - 2008 - Developing World Bioethics 8 (3):178-191.
    There is an alleged tension between undue inducement and exploitation in research trials. This paper considers claims that increasing the benefits to research subjects enrolled in international, externally-sponsored clinical trials should be avoided on the grounds that it may result in the undue inducement of research subjects. This article contributes to the debate about exploitation versus undue inducement by introducing an analysis of the available empirical research into research participants' motivations and the influence of payments on research subjects' behaviour and (...)
  27. 'Fair Benefits' Accounts of Exploitation Require a Normative Principle of Fairness: Response to Gbadegesin and Wendler, and Emanuel Et Al.Angela Ballantyne - 2008 - Bioethics 22 (4):239–244.
    In 2004 Emanuel et al. published an influential account of exploitation in international research, which has become known as the 'fair benefits account'. In this paper I argue that the thin definition of fairness presented by Emanuel et al, and subsequently endorsed by Gbadegesin and Wendler, does not provide a notion of fairness that is adequately robust to support a fair benefits account of exploitation. The authors present a procedural notion of fairness – the fair distribution of the benefits of (...)
  28. Under What Conditions is Clinical Research in Developing Countries Exploitative? A Framework for Assessing Exploitation in Mutually Advantageous Transactions.Angela Ballantyne - 2006 - Advances in Bioethics 9:209-244.
  29. Can Science Make Peace with the Environment? Science, Power, Exploitation.Angelo Baracca - 2015 - In Ana Simões, Jürgen Renn & Theodore Arabatzis (eds.), Relocating the History of Science. Springer Verlag.
  30. Exchange Stability and Unproductive Foreign Credits.Johann Baracs - forthcoming - Social Research.
  31. The "Labor Aristocracy" in Context.J. M. Barbalet - 1987 - Science and Society 51 (2):133 - 153.
  32. Exploitation and Double Standards in Research in Developed Countries.L. Barclay - 2008 - Monash Bioethics Review 27 (4):37.
  33. Exploitation as a Path to Development: Sweatshop Labour, Micro-Unfairness, and the Non-Worseness Claim.Michael Randall Barnes - 2013 - Ethics and Economics.
    Sweatshop labour is sometimes defended from critics by arguments that stress the voluntariness of the worker’s choice, and the fact that sweatshops provide a source of income where no other similar source exists. The idea is if it is exploitation—as their opponents charge—it is mutually beneficial and consensual exploitation. This defence appeals to the non-worseness claim (NWC), which says that if exploitation is better for the exploited party than neglect, it cannot be seriously wrong. The NWC renders otherwise exploitative—and therefore (...)
  34. “Exploitation in the Human Body- Trade” and Some Ethical Issues.Archana Barua & Akoijam Thoibisana - 2007 - Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 17 (1):16-21.
  35. The Exploitation of the Economically Disadvantaged in Pharmaceutical Research.Tom L. Beauchamp - 2009 - In Denis Gordon Arnold (ed.), Ethics and the Business of Biomedicine. Cambridge University Press. pp. 83.
  36. Avoiding Exploitation in Clinical Research.Solomon R. Benatar - 2000 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 9 (4):562-565.
    Clinical research has become a burgeoning activity in recent years, largely stimulated by the pharmaceutical industry's interest in new drugs with high marketing profiles. Several other forces fuel this thrust: the increasing dependence of academic medical institutions on research funding from industry; the need for large, efficient multicenter trials to obtain reliable and statistically significant results in the shortest possible time for drug registration purposes; and access to research subjects in countries. The intense interest in HIV/AIDS research and recent controversies (...)
  37. On the Nature and Origins of Marx's Concept of Labor.R. N. Berki - 1979 - Political Theory 7 (1):35-56.
  38. Wendell Phillips: Labor Advocate.Samuel Bernstein - 1956 - Science and Society 20 (4):344 - 357.
  39. Exploitation and Future Generations.Christopher Bertram - 2009 - In Axel Gosseries & Lukas H. Meyer (eds.), Intergenerational Justice. Oxford University Press.
  40. Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J. On the United States.Joseph Betz - 2003 - Journal for Peace and Justice Studies 13 (2):125-141.
    Liberation theology's account of how Latin America's rich exploited the poor described things perfectly in El Salvador. On behalf of the crucified majority, Ellacurfa prophetically denounced, for over twenty years, the oppression of the crucifying oligarchy of El Salvador. This paper concerns a part of that denunciation, the part of it for which I, as a North American, as a citizen of the United States, have some responsibility.
  41. Of Human Bonding: Cooperation or Exploitation.L. Betzig - 1992 - Social Science Information 31 (4):611-642.
  42. Book Review: S. Wilkinson, Bodies for Sale: Ethics and Exploitation in the Human Body Trade. Routledge, 2003, 264 Pp., £17.99, ISBN 0-203-48072-4. [REVIEW]Hazel Biggs - 2005 - Feminist Legal Studies 13 (2):263-264.
  43. Undue Influence: 'Impaired Consent' or 'Wicked Exploitation'?R. Bigwood - 1996 - Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 16 (3):503-516.
  44. Contracts by Unfair Advantage: From Exploitation to Transactional Neglect.Rick Bigwood - 2005 - Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 25 (1):65-96.
    This article aims to effectuate a paradigm shift in the way we view cases involving pure advantage-taking in contract formation. By ‘pure advantage-taking’ it is meant that D in some sense took ‘unfair advantage of’ a special bargaining weakness or vulnerability that D found ‘ready-made’ in P: D neither caused P’s relevant weakness or vulnerability nor otherwise was legally responsible for relieving it.Certain undue influence and unconscionable dealing cases (for example) fit this scenario perfectly, yet senior Commonwealth courts consistently assert (...)
  45. Exploitative Contracts.Rick Bigwood - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
    In turn, the volume explains how an understanding of these contract law doctrines can be enhanced by a proper conception of exploitation.
  46. Jacob Morris on Unproductive Employment: A Criticism.Justin Blake - 1960 - Science and Society 24 (2):169 - 175.
  47. The Political Economy of Labor.Justin Blake - 1960 - Science and Society 24 (3):193 - 206.
  48. Jacob Morris on Unproductive Employment.Justin Blake - 1958 - Science and Society 24:169-73.
  49. Lottery Pricing Under Time Pressure.Pavlo R. Blavatskyy & Wolfgang R. Köhler - 2011 - Theory and Decision 70 (4):431-445.
    This article investigates how subjects determine minimum selling prices for lotteries. We design an experiment where subjects have at every moment an incentive to state their minimum selling price and to adjust the price, if they believe that the price that they stated initially was not optimal. We observe frequent and sizeable price adjustments. We find that random pricing models cannot explain the observed price patterns. We show that earlier prices contain information about future price adjustments. We propose a model (...)
  50. Reply to Hellmer on Sweatshops.Walter Block - 2010 - Journal of Libertarian Studies 22 (1):719-739.
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