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Unfair trade, exploitation, and below-subsistence wages


Dänzer, Sonja (2014). Unfair trade, exploitation, and below-subsistence wages. Moral Philosophy and Politics, 1(2):269-288.

Abstract

The article discusses the relation between the concepts of unfair trade, exploitation, and below-subsistence wages with regard to individual economic transactions. Starting from the common notion that exploitation involves some kind of unfair advantage taking, it asks how “unfair” is to be understood, and what it is that is taken advantage of in exploitative exchanges. On this basis it then explores a line of argument for grounding the claim that below-subsistence wages are exploitative, focusing on the condition of morally transformative voluntary consent to transactions. By analyzing the structure of coercion with regard to threats, offers, and circumstances it comes to the conclusion that consent to an offer is morally non-transformative with regard to legitimizing the outcome of a transaction if the person giving the “consent” has only unacceptable options in absolute terms to choose from, since this reduces “consent” to a mere act of rationality devoid of any normative content. Accordingly, it argues that insofar as below-subsistence wages are unacceptable options in absolute terms, they are to be considered exploitative and an instance of unfair trade.

Abstract

The article discusses the relation between the concepts of unfair trade, exploitation, and below-subsistence wages with regard to individual economic transactions. Starting from the common notion that exploitation involves some kind of unfair advantage taking, it asks how “unfair” is to be understood, and what it is that is taken advantage of in exploitative exchanges. On this basis it then explores a line of argument for grounding the claim that below-subsistence wages are exploitative, focusing on the condition of morally transformative voluntary consent to transactions. By analyzing the structure of coercion with regard to threats, offers, and circumstances it comes to the conclusion that consent to an offer is morally non-transformative with regard to legitimizing the outcome of a transaction if the person giving the “consent” has only unacceptable options in absolute terms to choose from, since this reduces “consent” to a mere act of rationality devoid of any normative content. Accordingly, it argues that insofar as below-subsistence wages are unacceptable options in absolute terms, they are to be considered exploitative and an instance of unfair trade.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:National licences > 142-005
Dewey Decimal Classification:Unspecified
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Philosophy
Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > History and Philosophy of Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:fair trade; exploitation; below-subsistence wages; fairness; coercion
Language:English
Date:1 January 2014
Deposited On:13 Nov 2018 16:18
Last Modified:15 Apr 2021 14:51
Publisher:Walter de Gruyter GmbH
ISSN:2194-5616
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/jmpp-2014-0010

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