Penn Bioethics Seminar (PBS): Brian Berkey, PhD. "Understanding the Wrong of Exploitation"
12:00pm - 1:00am • Hybrid: 1402 Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive (and virtual via Zoom)
Understanding the Wrong of Exploitation
Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics
University of Pennsylvania
In this talk, I'll describe the account of the wrong of exploitation that I've developed across a few papers in recent years. The central philosophical puzzle in the exploitation debate arises because most people believe that many employees in sweatshops and participants in clinical trials in developing countries are wrongfully exploited, even in some cases in which they're made better off overall as a result of their participation in the relevant transactions. Some who are skeptical of this belief have argued that such mutually beneficial transactions can't be wrongfully exploitative, because it can't be wrong to engage in a mutually beneficial transaction with a person if it wouldn't be wrong to refrain from transacting with them altogether. The dominant view in the literature, however, is that these transactions can be wrong in virtue of being unfair or disrespectful toward those who are widely thought to be exploited, even though it would not be wrong (and specifically, would not be unfair or disrespectful) to simply neglect those who are vulnerable to exploitation.
I argue that both of these views are mistaken, and that we should instead understand the wrong of exploitation as consisting in particular ways of failing to satisfy positive duties that are owed to those who are vulnerable to exploitation. After making the case for this view, I'll note some of its important and striking implications, most notably that the wrong of exploitation is often committed not just against an exploiter's transaction partners, but against every person who is vulnerable enough that they would have chosen to transact on the relevant terms if they were offered.
Streaming available via Zoom.