Consensual exploitation : the moral wrong in exploitation and legal restrictions on consensual exploitative transactions
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van der Neut, Wendy
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This thesis is about so-‐called consensual exploitative transactions: transactions to which all parties agree voluntarily, and which are beneficial for all parties, but which are still widely considered exploitative, and for that reason legally restricted in many countries. The thesis asks two main questions: 1. What is wrong with consensual exploitation? 2.What implications does the answer to this question have for the legal restriction of consensual transactions that are regarded exploitative in modern liberal societies? In answer to the first research question, the thesis starts by distinguishing and analysing five competing views of the wrong in consensual exploitation that exist in the present-‐day philosophical debate on exploitation; and rejects all five answers. Next, the thesis offers an alternative answer, which is that the wrong in consensual exploitation can best be understood as a matter of greediness—a failure of the virtue of generosity. The thesis then turns to the second research question: what understanding exploitation as greediness implies for the legal restriction of exploitative transactions. It discusses and rejects the view that law ought only to be used to regulate ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ behaviour, and not to promote virtues or discourage vices, such as generosity and greediness. The thesis argues that legal restrictions on consensual exploitative transactions can be justified as a means to prevent greediness, and to promote a certain other-‐regardingness, and illustrates this argument with two examples of laws that regulate consensual transactions which are widely regarded exploitative: minimum wage laws and payday loan laws.