This article examines the “Choice Argument” for sweatshops, i.e., the claim that it is morally wrong or impermissible for third parties to interfere with the choice of sweatshop workers to work in sweatshops. The Choice Argument seeks, in other words, to shift the burden of proof onto those who wish to regulate sweatshop labor. It does so by forcing critics of sweatshops to specify the conditions under which it is morally permissible to interfere with sweatshop workers’ choice. My aim in (...) this article is to meet that burden. Unlike other critics of sweatshop labor, however, my argument does not proceed from contested economic or moral assumptions. To the contrary, my strategy will be to demonstrate that even if we grant the truth of the economic and moral assumptions made by defenders of the Choice Argument, it never- theless does not follow that it is morally wrong to interfere with the choice of sweatshop workers to work in sweatshops. The Choice Argument thus fails on its own terms. (shrink)
Three types of objections have been raised against sweatshops. According to their critics, sweatshops are (1) exploitative, (2) coercive, and (3) harmful to workers. In “The Ethical and Economic Case Against Sweatshop Labor: A Critical Assessment,” Powell and Zwolinski critique all three objections and thereby offer what is arguably the most powerful defense of sweatshops in the philosophical literature to date. This article demonstrates that, whether or not unregulated sweatshops are exploitative or coercive, they are, pace Powell and Zwolinski, harmful (...) to workers. (shrink)
Proposals for how to redesign democracy so as to better secure the demands of intergenerational justice can be divided into three broad families: (1) representative proxies; (2) differential voting schemes; and (3) counter-majoritarian devices. However, these proposals suffer from a fundamental weakness: namely, they all assume that despite the fact that democracy is by its very nature ill-equipped to secure intergenerational justice, it is nevertheless possible to rely on democracy to solve this problem in the first place. But that, to (...) put it colloquially, is like thinking that one can pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps. This paper sketches the shape and contours of a solution to this problem that is better able than the alternatives to escape this objection. This solution draws upon the strategy of a so-called ‘non-reformist reform.’. (shrink)
Kuyumcuoglu argues that defenders of sweatshop regulations should reject consequentialism and accept an ex ante interpretation of contractualism instead. In this Commentary I show that Kuyumcuoglu’s argument doesn’t succeed. Defenders of sweatshops shouldn’t become ex ante contractualists because its advantages on this issue are more apparent than real.
Ought some individuals be required to do more to combat injustice simply because others have done less? My thesis in this paper is that in order to answer thisquestion in a theoretically compelling manner, it is necessary to distinguish the social obligations that citizens have towards one another in virtue of their institutional ties or special relationships from the natural duties that all persons share simply in virtue of their status as equal moral agents. What justice demands of individuals in (...) nonideal circumstances will ultimately depend, I argue, on the comparative scope or range of application of these two different types of moral requirement. (shrink)
According to the nonworseness claim, it cannot be morallyworseto exploit someone than not to interact with them at all when the interaction 1) is mutually beneficial, 2) is voluntary, and 3) has no negative effects on third parties. My aim in this article is to defend the moral significance of exploitation from this challenge. To that end, I develop a novel account of why sweatshop owners have a moral obligation to pay sweatshop workers a nonexploitative wage despite the fact that (...) their relationship is entirely optional. More precisely, I defend two main claims. First, I show that sweatshop owners are morally obligated to pay sweatshop workers a nonexploitative wage even though they have a right not to hire them and even though that will require them to pay sweatshop workers a wage that is higher than the one they voluntarily accepted. Second, I explain why this obligation on the part of sweatshop owners is not defeated by the fact that other individuals not party to the transaction would benefit even more than sweatshop workers from receiving this additional level of pay. (shrink)