Journal of Business Ethics 169 (1):43-56 (2021)

Brian Berkey
University of Pennsylvania
It is widely thought that firms that employ workers in “sweatshop” conditions wrongfully exploit those workers. This claim has been challenged by those who argue that because companies are not obligated to hire their workers in the first place, employing them cannot be wrong so long as they voluntarily accept their jobs and genuinely benefit from them. In this article, I argue that we can maintain that at least many sweatshop employees are wrongfully exploited, while accepting the plausible claim at the core of many defenses of sweatshops, namely that engaging in a voluntary and mutually beneficial transaction with a person in need cannot constitute morally worse treatment of that person than doing nothing at all to benefit her. We can do this, I claim, by accepting that wealthy multinational corporations have positive duties to employ or otherwise benefit the global poor. I argue that these duties can be plausibly grounded in the fact that potential sweatshop workers are victims of global structural injustice, from which multinational corporations typically benefit.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1007/s10551-019-04299-1
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 59,058
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Value of Fairness and the Wrong of Wage Exploitation.Brian Berkey - 2020 - Business Ethics Quarterly 30 (3):414-429.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Sweatshops, Choice, and Exploitation.Matt Zwolinski - 2007 - Business Ethics Quarterly 17 (4):689-727.
The Ethics of Sweatshops and the Limits of Choice.Michael Kates - 2015 - Business Ethics Quarterly 25 (2):191-212.
Sweatshop Regulation and Workers’ Choices.Jessica Flanigan - 2018 - Journal of Business Ethics 153 (1):79-94.
Sweatshops and Respect for Persons.Denis G. Arnold & Norman E. Bowie - 2005 - Journal of Philosophical Research 30 (9999):165-188.
Sweatshops and Respect for Persons.Denis G. Arnold & Norman E. Bowie - 2005 - Journal of Philosophical Research 30 (Supplement):165-188.
Exploitation and Sweatshop Labor: Perspectives and Issues.Jeremy Snyder - 2010 - Business Ethics Quarterly 20 (2):187-213.
What We Owe to the Global Poor.Mathias Risse - 2005 - The Journal of Ethics 9 (1-2):81-117.
Duties to the Global Poor and Minimalism About Global Justice in Advance.Alex Rajczi - forthcoming - International Journal of Applied Philosophy.
Duties to the Global Poor and Minimalism About Global Justice.Alex Rajczi - 2016 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 30 (1):65-89.


Added to PP index

Total views
81 ( #126,589 of 2,427,680 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
21 ( #37,100 of 2,427,680 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes