Poverty Tourism and the Problem of Consent

Journal of Global Ethics, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 337-348

Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 11-22

13 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2011 Last revised: 1 Sep 2014

Kyle Whyte

Michigan State University - Department of Philosophy

Evan Selinger

Rochester Institute of Technology - Department of Philosophy

Kevin Outterson

Boston University School of Law

Date Written: December 30, 2010

Abstract

Is it morally permissible for financially privileged tourists to visit places for the purpose of experiencing where poor people live, work, and play? Tourism associated with this question is commonly referred to as 'poverty tourism.' While some poverty tourism is plausibly ethical, other practices will be more controversial. The purpose of this essay is to address mutually beneficial cases of poverty tourism and advance the following positions. First, even mutually beneficial transactions between tourists and residents in poverty tourism always run a risk of being exploitative. Second, there is little opportunity to determine whether a given tour is exploitative since tourists lack good access to the residents' perspectives. Third, if a case of poverty tourism is exploitative, it is so in an indulgent way; tourists are not compelled to exploit the residents. In light of these considerations, we conclude that would-be tourists should participate in poverty tours only if there is a well-established collaborative and consensual process in place.

Keywords: Poverty tourism, poorism, exploitation, tourism ethics, fair trade

Suggested Citation

Whyte, Kyle and Selinger, Evan and Outterson, Kevin, Poverty Tourism and the Problem of Consent (December 30, 2010). Journal of Global Ethics, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 337-348; Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 11-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1732710

Kyle Powys Whyte (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - Department of Philosophy ( email )

368 Farm Lane #503
South Kedzie Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
United States
5174321034 (Phone)
5174321320 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.philosophy.msu.edu/people/faculty/kyle-powys-whyte/

Evan Selinger

Rochester Institute of Technology - Department of Philosophy ( email )

92 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623-5670
United States
(585) 475-2531 (Phone)

Kevin Outterson

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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