Anonymous exploitation: non-individual, non-agential and structural
Review of Social Economy, 2019, vol. 77, issue 2, 143-162
On contemporary standard accounts exploitation is of man by man: One individual exploits another through a particular transaction. This paper offers a departure from the individualist transactional paradigm of exploitation by formulating an account of anonymous exploitation. The departure is threefold. Anonymous exploitation may occur as non-individual exploitation in cases where exploiter, exploited or both are not individuals but group agents, it may occur as non-agential exploitation in cases where exploiter, exploited or both are not agents but non-agential groups and it may occur as structural exploitation in cases where structures are exploitative. I shall argue that anonymous exploitation in its three variants is a real, independent and non-mysterious phenomenon. To miss its significance is to miss the ‘genius’ or even to remain blind to important instances of exploitation. My argument proceeds in seven steps. In section 1, I offer a brief analysis of the concept of exploitation and spell out the desiderata that a successful theory of exploitation would have to satisfy. In section 2, I explain what I mean by anonymous exploitation. Section 3 explores the idea of non-individual exploitation; section 4 presents an account of non-agential exploitation and section 5 proceeds likewise with the idea of structural exploitation. Section 6 puts the individual steps of my argument together and I conclude in section 7.
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