Ann Cudd and Matt Zwolinski

Ann Cudd (left) and Matt Zwolinski (right) on exploitation and oppression.

The NYT reports that some low-wage South African workers were recently angered when their factory was shut down for violation of minimum wage laws. Are such workers exploited by their employers? Do they constitute an oppressed group? To address such questions, Cudd and Zwolinski examine the concepts of exploitation and oppression. They consider whether mutually beneficial exploitation might sometimes be morally justifiable, and how much we must be willing to sacrifice in order to resist oppressive institutions, among other issues.

Related works

by Cudd:
with Nancy Holmstrom: Capitalism, For and Against: A Feminist Debate (forthcoming)
Analyzing Oppression (2006)
How to Explain Oppression” (2005)

by Zwolinski:
Price Gouging and Market Failure” (forthcoming)
Price Gouging, Non-Worseness, and Distributive Justice” (2009)
The Ethics of Price Gouging” (2008)
Sweatshops, Choice, and Exploitation” (2007)

See also:
Gender, Race, and Philosophy Symposium on Analyzing Oppression (2009)

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1 comment to Ann Cudd and Matt Zwolinski

  • Andrew

    Re:. Ann Cudd and Matt Zwolinski on exploitation.

    Wouldn’t any exploitation arguments suffer badly from subjectivity, since the notion of fairness is varied among cultures, individuals and time of life of the same individual?

    Let’s consider a girl stranded in the desert and a man offering to rescue her in exchange for sex. The girl may think that it is excellent deal – “adventure and romance”, she may also think that it is “necessary evil” but certainly worth saving her life, she also may think that it will “completely ruin her honor” and she would rather die than be rescued this way. Somewhat similar range of thoughts can be in the head of the man. What makes the whole thing much more confusing is that while negotiating the deal the parties may change their opinion many times based on all kinds of perceived or implied facts about other person and circumstances. So it appears that while in clear-cut situations the mind does have general strategy, it is always possible to fine-tune the circumstances to the point when practically any notion will lose coherence. Add to that the fuzzy border of what we call “mental illness” and most moral questions become intractable.

    What person think is right at any moment may depend on which one of his personalities is talking, at what level the progress of his Alzheimer’s is, whether he drank coffee this morning and whether his mom took medications when she was pregnant.

    I wonder how any philosopher who has suffered from different mental states does not see glaring identity problems in every part of the subject.