Sweatshops, Choice, and Exploitation

Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 689-727, October 2007

40 Pages Posted: 31 May 2006 Last revised: 25 Jul 2010

Matt Zwolinski

University of San Diego; University of San Diego School of Law

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Sweatshops, exploitation, choice, consent, markets, coercion, poverty, economics, philosophy

JEL Classification: A11, A12, A13, D63, F01, F23, I30, I31, J30

Suggested Citation

Zwolinski, Matt, Sweatshops, Choice, and Exploitation. Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 689-727, October 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=901689

Matt Zwolinski (Contact Author)

University of San Diego ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
619-260-4094 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
4,043
Rank
1,525
Abstract Views
20,719