Epistemic exploitation occurs when privileged persons compel marginalized persons to educate them about the nature of their oppression. I argue that epistemic exploitation is marked by unrecognized, uncompensated, emotionally taxing, coerced epistemic labor. The coercive and exploitative aspects of the phenomenon are exemplified by the unpaid nature of the educational labor and its associated opportunity costs, the double bind that marginalized persons must navigate when faced with the demand to educate, and the need for additional labor created by (...) the default skepticism of the privileged. I explore the connections between epistemic exploitation and the two varieties of epistemic injustice that Fricker (2007) identifies, testimonial and hermeneutical injustice. I situate epistemic exploitation within Dotson’s (2012; 2014) framework of epistemic oppression, and I address the role that epistemic exploitation plays in maintaining active ignorance and upholding dominant epistemic frameworks. (shrink)
It is argued that there are good reasons for believing that commercial surrogacy is often exploitative. However, even if we accept this, the exploitation argument for prohibiting (or otherwise legislatively discouraging) commercial surrogacy remains quite weak. One reason for this is that prohibition may well 'backfire' and lead to potential surrogates having to do other things that are more exploitative and/or more harmful than paid surrogacy. It is concluded, therefore, that those who oppose exploitation should concentrate on: (a) (...) improving the conditions under which paid surrogates 'work'; and (b) changing the background conditions (in particular, the unequal distribution of power and wealth) which generate exploitative relationships. (edited). (shrink)
It is commonly thought that exploitation is unjust; some think it is part of the very meaning of the word 'exploitation' that it is unjust. Those who think this will suppose that the just society has to be one in which people do not exploit one another, at least on a large scale. I will argue that exploitation is not unjust by definition, and that a society (such as Our own) might be fundamentally just while nevertheless being (...) pervasively exploitative. I do think that exploitation is nearly always a bad thing, and will try to identify the moral belief which makes most of us think it is. But I will argue that its badness does not always consist in its being unjust. (shrink)
Where there is trust, there is also vulnerability, and vulnerability can be exploited. Epistemic trust is no exception. This chapter maps the phenomenon of the exploitation of epistemic trust. I start with a discussion of how trust in general can be exploited; a key observation is that trust incurs vulnerabilities not just for the party doing the trusting, but also for the trustee (after all, trust can be burdensome), so either party can exploit the other. I apply these considerations (...) to epistemic trust, specifically in testimonial relationships. There, we standardly think of a hearer trusting a speaker. But we miss an important aspect of this relationship unless we consider too that the speaker standardly trusts the hearer. Given this mutual trust, and given that both trustees and trusters can exploit each other, we have four possibilities for exploitation in epistemic-trust relationships: a speaker exploiting a hearer (a) by accepting his trust or (b) by imposing her trust on him, and a hearer exploiting a speaker (c) by accepting her trust or (d) by imposing his trust on her. One result is that you do not need to betray someone to exploit him – you can exploit him just as easily by doing what he trusts you for. (shrink)
In this book, Alan Wertheimer seeks to identify when a transaction or relationship can be properly regarded as exploitative--and not oppressive, manipulative, or morally deficient in some other way--and explores the moral weight of taking ...
Many believe that employment can be wrongfully exploitative, even if it is consensual and mutually beneficial. At the same time, it may seem third parties should not do anything to preclude or eliminate such arrangements, given these same considerations of consent and benefit. I argue that there are perfectly sensible, intuitive ethical positions that vindicate this ‘Reasonable View’. The view requires such defense because the literature often suggests that there is no theoretical space for it. I respond to arguments for (...) the clearest symptom of this obscuration: the so-called nonworseness claim that a consensual, mutually beneficial transaction cannot be ‘morally worse’ than its absence. In addition to making space for the Reasonable View, this serves my dialectical goal of encouraging distinct attention to first- and third-party obligations. (shrink)
Despite its title, Alan Wertheimer’s new book is not another tiresome exploration of Marxist economic theories. Indeed, there is virtually no extended discussion of Marxism at all, since Wertheimer believes that what is unique to that perspective is highly problematic, given that when Marxists simply assert that capitalists do exploit wage laborers they are appealing to “the ordinary notion that one party exploits another when it gets unfair and undeserved benefits from its transactions or relationships with others”. His goal is (...) to analyze this ordinary sense of exploitation, to explore in detail some of the many forms it can take, and to begin some serious thinking about what he terms its moral weight and its moral force. This groundbreaking work, the first book-length treatment of its subject from a broadly analytic standpoint, should do much to disabuse non-Marxist philosophers of the notion that exploitation is largely peripheral to the central questions of moral and political philosophy. (shrink)
This paper reviews the recent literature on exploitation. It distinguishes between three main species of exploitation theory: teleology-based accounts, respect-based accounts, and freedom-based accounts. It then addresses the implications of each.
Contemporary theoretical discussions of exploitation are dominated by thinkers in the liberal and Marxian traditions. Exploitation: From Practice to Theory, pushes past these traditional and binary explanations, to focus on unjust practises that both depend on and perpetuate inequalities central to exploitation. -/- Using real-world examples, the chapters in this collection address key questions, including, in what ways are exploitation practices globalised, racialized and gendered? How do cases of organ selling, price gouging and commercial gestational surrogacy (...) change our understandings of exploitation? What possible social and economic remedies do these new conceptions prescribe? -/- Case studies in this volume span the globe, dealing with developed and developing countries alike and in a variety of national and transnational contexts. (shrink)
An interesting feature of some sets of representations is that their structure mirrors the structure of the items they represent. Founding an account of representational content on isomorphism, homomorphism or structural resemblance has proven elusive, however, largely because these relations are too liberal when the candidate structure over representational vehicles is unconstrained. Furthermore, in many cases where there is a clear isomorphism, it is not relied on in the way the representations are used. That points to a potential resolution: that (...) an isomorphism must be used, hence usable, if it is to be an ingredient in a theory of content. This paper argues that the class of exploitable isomorphisms can indeed play a content-constituting role. (shrink)
In this review, I survey theoretical accounts of exploitation in business, chiefly through the example of low wage or sweatshop labor. This labor is associated with wages that fall below a living wage standard and include long working hours. Labor of this kind is often described as self-evidently exploitative and immoral (Van Natta 1995). But for those who defend sweatshop labor as the first rung on a ladder toward greater economic development, the charge that sweatshop labor is self-evidently exploitative (...) fails adequately to explain the nature of the alleged wrongdoing. While all sides might agree that poor working conditions are unfortunate and undesirable, defenders of sweatshop labor argue that they provide the best available employment alternative for some workers and the best chance at economic development for many low and middle income countries (LMICs). Some defenders of sweatshop labor even embrace the label of exploitation. <br><br>Unless there is a clear, widely understood account by which exploitation is a moral wrong, then charging a practice as exploitative will do little to advance debates over whether and why a practice is morally problematic. A considerable body of work has been developed applying a growing literature on exploitation to sweatshop labor. While many forms of moral wrong are associated with sweatshop labor, I will focus specifically on the worry that low wages allow relatively wealthy employers wrongfully to take advantage of or gain from relatively poor workers, especially in LMICs. In particular, I will focus on instances of alleged exploitation in employment relationships that are voluntary and mutually beneficial. I have two reasons for doing so. First, by restricting this review to voluntary and mutually beneficial instances of exploitation, I can isolate the moral wrong of exploitation from other moral wrongs, especially the wrongs of coercion and outright harms to workers. Second, the focus on mutually beneficial and voluntary relationships will allow for arguments that sweatshop labor is not only not exploitative, but is a morally praiseworthy means of helping to encourage economic growth in poor areas of the world and to provide jobs that pay better and are more stable than any existing alternatives.<br><br>In this review, I aim to accomplish three goals. First, I will provide an overview of the many different uses of the charge of exploitation in business practice through an examination of the uses of the term in the literature on sweatshop labor. While it is often not clear what kind of moral wrong is assumed to take place when the charge of exploitation is used, I will demonstrate that many distinct types of exploitation, connected to distinct moral wrongs, are used in the literature on sweatshop labor and elsewhere in business ethics. Specifically, I will identify two broad categories of exploitation—exploitation as unfairness and exploitation as the mere use of others—with subgroups under each main category of exploitation. Second, I will discuss which of these senses of exploitation are defensible as identifying clear moral wrongs that take place in the context of business and, specifically, sweatshop labor. As I will argue, not all uses of the charge of exploitation are capable of persuasively identifying clear moral wrongs. Moreover, there is not a single, clear type of exploitation that takes place in business but, rather, several distinct forms. Third, I will apply the lessons learned from my exploration of exploitation in sweatshop labor to other specific areas of business. As I will argue, there are multiple viable models of exploitation in the sweatshop literature that can illuminate exploitative practices of relatively well compensated employees, customers, suppliers, and entire communities. <br><br>While discussions of theories of exploitation tend to argue for a single, correct account of this moral wrong, my review of the literature on exploitation in sweatshop labor supports the conclusion that there are multiple defensible accounts of the moral wrong of exploitation. For this reason, those who would charge that a relationship is exploitative should specify the form of exploitation that they believe is taking place. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that exploitation is unjust; some think it is part of the very meaning of the word ‘exploitation’ that it is unjust. Those who think this will suppose that the just society has to be one in which people do not exploit one another, at least on a large scale. I will argue that exploitation is not unjust by definition, and that a society might be fundamentally just while nevertheless being pervasively exploitative. I do (...) think that exploitation is nearly always a bad thing, and wul try to identify the moral belief which makes most of us think it is. But I will argue that its badness does not always consist in its being unjust. (shrink)
The concept of exploitation and potentially exploitative real-world practices are the subject of increasing philosophical attention. However, while philosophers have extensively debated what exploitation is and what makes it wrong, they have said surprisingly little about what might be required to remediate it. By asking how the consequences of exploitation should be addressed, this article seeks to contribute to filling this gap. We raise two questions. First, what are the victims of exploitation owed by way of (...) remediation? Second, who ought to remediate? Our answers to these questions are connected by the idea that exploitation cannot be fully remediated by redistributing the exploiter's gain in order to repair or compensate the victim's loss. This is because exploitation causes not only distributive but also relational harm. Therefore, redistributive measures are necessary but not sufficient for adequate remediation. Moreover, this relational focus highlights the fact that exploitative real-world practices commonly involve agents other than the exploiter who stand to benefit from the exploitation. Insofar as these third parties are implicated in the distributive and relational harms caused by exploitation, there is, we argue, good reason to assign part of the burden of remediation to them. (shrink)
We cooperate with other people despite the risk of being exploited or hurt. If future artificial intelligence (AI) systems are benevolent and cooperative toward us, what will we do in return? Here we show that our cooperative dispositions are weaker when we interact with AI. In nine experiments, humans interacted with either another human or an AI agent in four classic social dilemma economic games and a newly designed game of Reciprocity that we introduce here. Contrary to the hypothesis that (...) people mistrust algorithms, participants trusted their AI partners to be as cooperative as humans. However, they did not return AI's benevolence as much and exploited the AI more than humans. These findings warn that future self-driving cars or co-working robots, whose success depends on humans' returning their cooperativeness, run the risk of being exploited. This vulnerability calls not just for smarter machines but also better human-centered policies. (shrink)
This paper argues that a sweatshop worker's choice to accept the conditions of his or her employment is morally significant, both as an exercise of autonomy and as an expression of preference. This fact establishes a moral claim against interference in the conditions of sweatshop labor by third parties such as governments or consumer boycott groups. It should also lead us to doubt those who call for MNEs to voluntarily improve working conditions, at least when their arguments are based on (...) the claim that workers have a moral right to such improvement. These conclusions are defended against three objections: 1) that sweatshop workers' consent to the conditions of their labor is not fully voluntary, 2) that sweatshops' offer of additional labor options is part of an overall package that actually harms workers, 3) that even if sweatshop labor benefits workers, it is nevertheless wrongfully exploitative. (shrink)
Sweatshop labor is often cited as an example of the worst and most pervasive form of exploitation today, yet understanding what is meant by the charge has proven surprisingly difficult for philosophers. I develop an account of what I call “Needs Exploitation,” grounded in a specification of the duty of beneficence. In the case of sweatshop labor, I argue that employers face a duty to extend to employees a wage sufficient to meet their basic needs. This duty is (...) limited by the degree of the employees’ dependence on the employer for basic needs and a reasonability standard where the employer may remain within a range of well-being between deficiency and luxury. (shrink)
The ‘working poor’ are paid below‐subsistence wages for full‐time employment. What, if anything, is wrong with this? The extant philosophical literature offers two kinds of answers. The first says that failing to pay workers enough to live on takes unfair advantage of them; the workers are exploited. The second says that employers who fail to pay living wages default on a duty of care grounded in a special relationship; the workers are neglected. These arguments, though generally sound, provide an incomplete (...) picture of the wrongdoing involved. Neither adequately captures the intuition that a firm treats its employees not just badly, but disdainfully, by failing to pay them a living wage. My goal is to bring this particular feature of the relationship to salience. Working full‐time in return for below‐subsistence, I will argue, is an arrangement under which the worker is demeaned or insulted. This becomes apparent once we appreciate the expressive power of wages, and the intimate connection between one's labour and one's self. (shrink)
‘Epistemic exploitation occurs when privileged persons compel margin- alised knowers to educate them [and others] about the nature of their oppression’ (Berenstain, 2016, p. 569). This paper scrutinizes some of the purported wrongs underpinning this practice, so that educators might be better equipped to understand and avoid or mitigate harms which may result from such interventions. First, building on the work of Berenstain and Davis (2016), we argue that when privileged persons (in this context, educators) repeatedly compel marginalised or (...) oppressed knowers, to not only to educate them, but indeed others, about the nature of their oppression, they risk subjecting them to further epistemic-moral harms. This is due to the likelihood that at least some of their audience will assign them less/more credibility than they deserve based on pre-existing identity-based prejudices. Second, though some of these requests to ‘educate’ or ‘learn more’ masquerade as seemingly virtuous or innocuous epistemic inquiries, privileged persons underesti- mate or remain ignorant of secondary harms which stem from internalized epistemic obligations, oppressive double-binds (Hirji, 2021), and attendant emotional burdens oppressed knowers carry in relation to the ever-present possibility of ameliorating oppressor mindsets. After surveying each context-specific harm briefly, we then turn to an applied reading of how these exploitative practices sometimes culminate in something we refer to as ‘ontic burnout’, a form of interminable explanatory fatigue brought on by repeated requests to educate the privileged about what it means to be oppressed. (shrink)
It has been suggested that community advisory boards can play a role in minimising exploitation in international research. To get a better idea of what this requires and whether it might be achievable, the paper first describes core elements that we suggest must be in place for a CAB to reduce the potential for exploitation. The paper then examines a CAB established by the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit under conditions common in resource-poor settings – namely, where individuals join (...) with a very limited understanding of disease and medical research and where an existing organisational structure is not relied upon to serve as the CAB. Using the Tak Province Border Community Ethics Advisory Board as a case study, we assess the extent to which it might be able to take on a role minimising exploitation were it to decide to do so. We investigate whether, after two years in operation, T-CAB is capable of assessing clinical trials for exploitative features and addressing those found to have them. The findings show that, although T-CAB members have gained knowledge and developed capacities that are foundational for one-day taking on a role to reduce exploitation, their ability to critically evaluate studies for the presence of exploitative elements has not yet been strongly demonstrated. In light of this example, we argue that CABs may not be able to perform such a role for a number of years after initial formation, making it an unsuitable responsibility for many short-term CABs. (shrink)
What is the basis for arguing that a volunteer army exploits citizens who lack civilian career opportunities? How do we determine that a doctor who has sex with his patients is exploiting them? In this book, Alan Wertheimer seeks to identify when a transaction or relationship can be properly regarded as exploitative--and not oppressive, manipulative, or morally deficient in some other way--and explores the moral weight of taking unfair advantage. Among the first political philosophers to examine this important topic from (...) a non-Marxist perspective, Wertheimer writes about ordinary experience in an accessible yet philosophically penetrating way. He considers whether it is seriously wrong for a party to exploit another if the transaction is consensual and mutually advantageous, whether society can justifiably prohibit people from entering into such a transaction, and whether it is wrong to allow oneself to be exploited.Wertheimer first considers several contexts commonly characterized as exploitive, including surrogate motherhood, unconscionable contracts, the exploitation of student athletes, and sexual exploitation in psychotherapy. In a section outlining his theory of exploitation, he sets forth the criteria for a fair transaction and the point at which we can properly say that a party has consented. Whereas many discussions of exploitation have dealt primarily with cases in which one party harms or coerces another, Wertheimer's book focuses on what makes a mutually advantageous and consensual transaction exploitive and analyzes the moral and legal implications of such exploitation. (shrink)
This book was inspired originally by the debates at the turn of the century about placebo controlled trials of antiretrovirals in HIV positive pregnant women in developing countries. Moving forward from this one limited example, the book includes several additional controversial cases of clinical research conducted in developing countries, and asks probing philosophical questions about the ethics of such trials. All clinical research by its very nature uses people to acquire generalizable knowledge to help future people. But what sorts of (...) "use" are morally permissible? What is it to exploit people? Suppose that a trial conducted in a developing country would not be ethically permissible in the developed world. Can we automatically conclude from this that the trial is unethical, that some sort of morally problematic double standard is in operation? Or might the differences in the two settings justify differences in trial design? This collection of philosophical essays examines these important questions about what exploitation is and when clinical research counts as exploitative. -/- "This is an outstanding contribution to the growing literature on the ethics of research with human subjects and a fine example of what bioethics can offer at its best. Anyone with a serious interest in these issues will need to read this book from start to finish." -Daniel Wikler, Harvard School of Public Health "This book contributes significantly to the literature on exploitation in clinical research conducted in the developing world."--Patricia Marshall, Case Western Reserve University . (shrink)
According to Marx one of the primary evils of capitalism is that it is exploitative-and necessarily so. Socialist and communist societies will not be exploitative and this is one of the reasons why they will in some sense be better. To understand such claims we have to determine exactly what Marx means by “exploitation” and what it is about exploitation that Marx finds to be bad. Neither of these questions is as simple as it might seem.A common misunderstanding (...) of Marx is this: exploitation consists simply in an unequal distribution of social wealth. Workers are exploited because they get so much less of the pie than do capitalists. Another interpretation of Marx's concept is that exploitation consists in the fact that workers to not get the whole pie. They produce all value and, therefore, deserve to get it all back. I will show that both of these interpretations are inadequate or simply mistaken. An error common to both is an overemphasis on distribution. (shrink)
What conditions of vulnerability must an individual face in order that we might ever correctly say that she or he has been wrongfully exploited? Mikhail Valdman has recently argued that wrongful exploitation is the extraction of excessive benefits from someone who cannot reasonably refuse one’s offer. So, ‘being unable to reasonably refuse an offer’ is Valdman’s answer to this question. I will argue that this answer is too narrow, but that other competing answers, like Alan Wertheimer’s, are too broad. (...) I propose a new answer, a “vulnerability clause” to partially comprise a theory of wrongful exploitation. In so doing, I appeal to Marilyn Frye’s account of oppression and take guidance from her inclusion and exclusion criteria. (shrink)
When discussing exploitation, we often say things like this, “sweatshop laborers have terrible working conditions and are paid almost nothing, but they are better off with that labor than with no labor.” Similarly, in describing the Non-Identity Problem, Derek Parfit points out: we cannot say that the individuals born in future generations are worse off because of our destructive environmental policies because the particular people living in those future generations wouldn’t even exist if it were not for these destructive (...) policies. How can we explain these cases, exploitation and environmental destruction, as ones of wrongdoing when the victims in both cases are no worse off than they would have otherwise been? This paper investigates the link between these two moral puzzles and ultimately uses one to solve the other: an exploitation solution to the Non-Identity Problem. (shrink)
Many of us believe that exploitation is wrong, and that it is wrong even when, because the exploited would otherwise suffer, they consent to the exploitation. Does it follow that we should leave people to suffer rather than exploit them? This conclusion might seem difficult to accept, but avoiding it seems to require accepting a counterintuitively demanding view about our obligations to vulnerable people. In this paper, I offer a new solution to this problem.
When the assertion that some agent is exploiting a person connotes that the exploitation is morally wrong, what is this wrong? Some maintain that exploitation need not involve unfair division of advantages, but instead is essentially domination for self-enrichment. This essay denies this claim and upholds the idea that exploitation claims concern unfair distribution. Some maintain that the hypothetical fully competitive market exchange price can serve, at least in some contexts, as the standard for assessing whether voluntary (...) interaction is exploitative. This essay denies that the idea of the fully competitive market price can serve in this role. Nor should we accept a pure luck egalitarian claim that would identify fair distribution with the outcome of ideally competitive markets proceeding from fair initial distribution. (shrink)
This essay analyzesexploitation in biomedical research in terms ofthree basic elements: harm, disrespect, orinjustice. There are also degrees ofexploitation, ranging from highly exploitationto minimally exploitation. Althoughexploitation is prima facie wrongful,some exploitative research studies are morallyjustified, all things considered. The reasonan exploitative study can still be ethical isthat other moral considerations, such as theautonomy of the research subject or the socialbenefits of research, may sometimes justifystudies that are minimally exploitative. Calling a research project exploitative doesnot end the debate about the (...) merits of thestudy but invites one to ask additionalquestions about how the study is exploitative,and whether the study is justifiablenevertheless. (shrink)
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.
Exploitation and Economic Justice in the Liberal Capitalist State offers the first new, liberal theory of economic justice to appear in more than 30 years. The theory presented is designed to offer an alternative to the most popular liberal egalitarian theories of today and aims to be acceptable to both right and left libertarians too.
Offering cash payments to research subjects is a common recruiting method but there is significant debate about whether and in what amount such payments are appropriate. This paper is concerned with exploitation and whether there should be a lower limit on the amount researchers can pay their subjects. When subjects participate in research as a way to make money, fairness requires that researchers pay them a fair wage. This call for the establishment of a lower limit meets resistance in (...) two places: (1) denial that the payments offered by researchers are wages for participation; and (2) concern about undue inducement. This paper critically examines these arguments for and against a lower limit. It shows that the need for a lower limit cannot be avoided by adopting a non-wage payment model and that concerns about undue inducement are unjustified in all trials except those that present greater than minimal risk. This analysis suggests the following compromise position: there should be an unconditional lower limit on payment amounts so that researchers cannot offer less than a fair wage, and when researchers cannot satisfy this limit because fairness requires a problematically large payment, then researchers should offer no payment at all. (shrink)
How could it be wrong to exploit—say, by paying sweatshop wages—if the exploited party benefits? How could it be wrong to do something gratuitously bad—like giving to a wasteful charity—if that is better than permissibly doing nothing? Joe Horton argues that these puzzles, known as the Exploitation Problem and All or Nothing Problem, have no unified answer. I propose one and pose a challenge for Horton’s take on the Exploitation Problem.
Human subject trials of pharmaceuticals in low and middle income countries have been associated with the moral wrong of exploitation on two grounds. First, these trials may include a placebo control arm even when proven treatments for a condition are in use in other parts of the world. Second, the trial researchers or sponsors may fail to make a successful treatment developed through the trial available to either the trial participants or the host community following the trial.Many commentators have (...) argued that a single form of exploitation takes place during human subject research in LMICs. These commentators do not, however, agree as to what kind of moral wrong exploitation is or when exploitation is morally impermissible. In this paper, I have two primary goals. First, I will argue for a taxonomy of exploitation that identifies three distinct forms of exploitation. While each of these forms of exploitation has its critics, I will argue that they can each be developed into plausible accounts of exploitation tied to different vulnerabilities and different forms of wrongdoing. Second, I will argue that each of these forms of exploitation can coexist in single situations, including human subject trials of pharmaceuticals. This lesson is important, since different forms of exploitation in a single relationship can influence, among other things, whether the relationship is morally permissible. (shrink)
When is it immoral to take advantage of another person for one's own benefit? For some, such as Ruth Sample, John Roemer, and Will Kymlicka, the answer at least partly depends on whether what one takes advantage of is the fact that this person is, or has been, the victim of injustice. I argue, however, that whether person A wrongly exploits person B is wholly unrelated to whether A takes advantage of the fact that B is, or was, the victim (...) of injustice. I also develop a positive account regarding which personal attributes one should not exploit for personal gain. (shrink)
This paper offers a normative exploration of what exploitation is and of what is wrong with it. The focus is on the critical assessment of the exploitation of workers in capitalist societies. Such exploitation is wrongful when it involves a contra-solidaristic use of power to benefit oneself at the expense of others. Wrongful exploitation consists in using your greater power, and sometimes even in making other less powerful than you, in order to get them to benefit (...) you more than they ought to. This account of exploitation is appealing because it simultaneously captures three morally significant dimensions of exploitation—its material and social background, the relational (interpersonal and systemic) attitudes it enacts, and the final distributive results it generates. Exploitation is indeed a multidimensional social process. The flipside of the proposed critical characterization of this process is a positive ideal of solidaristic empowerment in the allocation and use of economic power, which the paper articulates in terms of the socialist Abilities/Needs Principle (“from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”). The Abilities/Needs Principle is grounded in human dignity. (shrink)
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 morally wrong—transactions permissible, making the exploitation of the global poor a justifiable path to development. In this paper, I argue that the use of NWC for the case of sweatshops is misleading. After reviewing and strengthening the exploitation claims made concerning sweatshops, most importantly by refuting certain allegations that a micro-unfairness account of exploitation cannot evaluate sweatshop labour as exploitative, I then argue that even if this practice may seem permissible due to benefits otherwise unavailable to the global poor, there remains a duty to address the background conditions that make this form of wrong-doing possible, which the NWC cannot accommodate. I argue that the NWC denies this by unreasonably limiting its scope and is therefore incomplete, and ultimately unconvincing. (shrink)
There are two opposing views concerning intuitive cases of wage exploitation. The first denies that they are cases of exploitation at all. It is based on the nonworseness claim: there is nothing wrong with a discretionary mutually beneficial employment relationship. The second is the reasonable view: some employment relationships can be exploitative even if employers have no duty towards their employees. This article argues that the reasonable view does not completely defeat defences of wage exploitation, because these (...) do not rely solely on the nonworseness claim. They also rely on the idea, popularised by Alan Wertheimer, that exploitation is a form of disequilibrium price occurring in defective markets. The article then proceeds to criticise Wertheimer’s account through neoclassical, new institutional, and Austrian economics. It concludes that considerations for economic efficiency are irrelevant to assessing intuitions regarding exploitation. (shrink)
Lowering compensation to research subjects to protect them from “undue inducement” is a misguided attempt to shoehorn a concern about exploitation into the framework of autonomy. We suggest that oversight bodies should be less concerned about undue influence than about exploitation of subjects. Avoiding exploitation in human subjects research requires not only increasing compensation, but enhancing the dignity of research participation.
Mutually beneficial exchanges in markets can be exploitative because one party takes advantage of an underlying injustice. For instance, employers of sweatshop workers are often accused of exploiting the desperate conditions of their employees, although the latter accept the terms of their employment voluntarily. A weakness of this account of exploitation is its tendency for over-inclusiveness. Certainly, given the prevalence of global and domestic socioeconomic inequalities, not all exchanges that take place against background injustices should be considered exploitative. This (...) paper offers a framework to identify exploitation in mutually beneficial exchange, focusing on the case of sweatshop labor. It argues that an employer can be viewed as taking unfair advantage of an underlying injustice if and only if the employer’s surplus from the exchange in the unjust state of affairs exceeds the surplus it could maximally obtain in a just state of affairs. The paper illustrates the applicability of this framework using three different conceptions of justice and argues that it is superior to microlevel accounts of exploitation that regard background justice as irrelevant. The paper concludes by describing some normative implications that follow from judging an exchange exploitative. (shrink)
In a recent paper in this journal, Richard Arneson criticizes the domination account of exploitation and attributes it to me and Allen Wood. In this paper, I defend the domination account against Arneson's criticisms. I begin by showing that the domination view is distinct from the vulnerability-based view defended by Wood. I also show that Alan Wertheimer's influential account of exploitation is congenial to the domination view. I then argue that Arneson's own fairness-based view of exploitation generates (...) false negatives and trivializes the concept of exploitation, rendering it entirely parasitic on the notion of unfairness. (shrink)
Many critics have suggested that international paid surrogacy is exploitative. Taking such concerns as its starting point, this article asks: how defensible is the claim that international paid surrogacy is exploitative and what could be done to make it less exploitative? In the light of the answer to, how strong is the case for prohibiting it? Exploitation could in principle be dealt with by improving surrogates' pay and conditions. However, doing so may exacerbate problems with consent. Foremost amongst these (...) is the argument that surrogates from economically disadvantaged countries cannot validly consent because their background circumstances are coercive. Several versions of this argument are examined and I conclude that at least one has some merit. The article's overall conclusion is that while ethically there is something to be concerned about, paid surrogacy is in no worse a position than many other exploitative commercial transactions which take place against a backdrop of global inequality and constrained options, such as poorly-paid and dangerous construction work. Hence, there is little reason to single surrogacy out for special condemnation. On a policy level, the case for prohibiting international commercial surrogacy is weak, despite legitimate concerns about consent and background poverty. (shrink)
Probably many people have cyclic preferences: they prefer A to B, B to C and C to A for some objects of choice A, B and C. Recent work has resurrected the objection to cyclic preference that agents possessing them are open to exploitation by means of ‘money pumps’. The paper briefly reviews this work and proposes a general approach to problems of sequential choice that makes cyclic preference immune to exploitation by means of these new mechanisms.
:According to some accounts of exploitation, most notably Ruth Sample’s degradation-based account and Robert Goodin’s vulnerability-based account, exploitation occurs when an advantaged party fails to constrain their advantage in light of another’s disadvantage, regardless of the cause of this disadvantage. Because the duty of constraint in these accounts does not depend on the cause of the disadvantage, the advantaged’s duty of constraint is what I call a ‘come-what-may’ duty. I show that come-what-may duties create moral hazards that can (...) themselves be exploited by the disadvantaged parties. In such cases these accounts of exploitation are either self-frustrating or over-demanding. (shrink)
Scholarship aiming to describe the wrongness of exploitation, especially when it is voluntary and mutually beneficial, has increased greatly in recent years. In this paper, I expand the scope of this discussion by highlighting a set of additional ethical concerns associated with many cases of mutually voluntary and beneficial exploitation. Specifically, I argue that the phenomenon of persons desperately seeking out and gratefully accepting exploitative interactions raises special moral concerns. The element of voluntariness is key to understanding how (...) and why some exploitative interactions are degrading to exploitees. When an exploitative offer does not allow the exploitee sufficient progress toward a decent minimum of human functioning, these offers can create what I call a 'demeaning choice', where the exploitee may either accept the status quo or accept an offer that improves the exploitee's insufficiently. In these cases, the exploitee's participation in the interaction contributes to its demeaning quality, creating a form of `surface endorsement' of the treatment that she receives. (shrink)
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 (...) about revisions to the Helsinki Declaration, which have been seen by some to be motivated by the desire to facilitate exploitative research in countries, have stimulated renewed interest in the ethics of clinical research. (shrink)