Res Publica

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 319–338 | Cite as

Does Purchasing Make Consumers Complicit in Global Labour Injustice?

  • Holly Lawford-SmithEmail author


Do consumers’ ordinary actions of purchasing certain goods make them complicit in global labour injustice? To establish that they do, two things much be shown. First, it must be established that they are not more than complicit, for example that they are not the principal perpetrators. Second, it must be established that they meet the conditions for complicity on a plausible account. I argue that Kutz’s account faces an objection that makes Lepora and Goodin’s better suited, and defend the idea that consumers are complicit in at least two of the ways distinguished by the latter. In the final section of the paper, I consider whether consumers’ responsibility for complicity in global labour injustice is likely to be as strong as responsibility from another source, namely benefiting from that injustice.


Complicity Ethical consumption Labour injustice Global injustice Benefiting Kutz 



I am grateful to audiences at the Society for Applied Philosophy Conference, Edinburgh, 3–5th July 2015, and the Nuffield Political Theory Seminar at the University of Oxford, 7 March 2016; Dominic Roser and Stephanie Collins for their thoughtful comments on the written version of the paper; Dan Halliday for useful discussion; and two anonymous reviewers for Res Publica for helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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