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The Injustice of Exploitation

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Abstract

Exploitation is perhaps the archetypal form of social injustice, reflecting the three dimensions of social injustice discussed in Chapter 1: maldistribution, exclusion, and disempowerment.1 The aim of this chapter is to explore the way exploitation captures all three dimensions of injustice. There are two sides to exploitation: its circumstances and its motives. The circumstances of exploitation give rise to maldistribution, while the motives of exploitation account for exclusion and disempowerment. I will argue that what makes exploitation unjust cannot be reduced exclusively to its circumstances; instead it is also the motives behind the act of exploitation that determine its injustice. In particular, I will argue that there are two sets of unjust motives that can give rise to exploitative relations: the (economic) motive to make a monetary gain from an unequal exchange, and the (non-economic) motive to morally insult or degrade the exploited party, not for monetary reasons but for the sake of identifying with power. The former (economic) motive finds support in the vast Marxist literature on exploitation, yet the latter (non-economic) motive has regrettably been neglected.

Keywords

  • Autonomous Motive
  • Social Injustice
  • Economic Motive
  • Unequal Exchange
  • Racial Oppression

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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  • DOI: 10.1057/9780230358447_4
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© 2012 Vittorio Bufacchi

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Bufacchi, V. (2012). The Injustice of Exploitation. In: Social Injustice. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230358447_4

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