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While some medical schools ask their graduates to abide by the Hippocratic Oath, others use a different pledge — or none at all. It is actually from another of his works called Of the Epidemics. Admittedly, there is similar language found in both places. Meanwhile, Of the Epidemics says. We will begin by discussing some ways that exploiters make the exploited badly-off, before discussing why this might suffice to make exploitation a kind of harm, even though it is advantageous for the exploited when compared to the option of not interacting with the exploiter.

Exploiters cause the exploited party to face a bad kind of choice. Exploited parties must decide between 1 avoiding exploitation, but allowing their basic needs or those of their dependents to go unsatisfied; and 2 meeting those basic needs by accepting conditions that violate minimal standards of fairness, thereby undermining their status as equals.


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Accepting the exploitative option demeans a person because it amounts to her volunteering for a position that treats her as a social inferior foregoing a minimally fair wage or decent working conditions, for instance. Yet because the exploited person is in desperate need, she has reason to accept such objectionable conditions. Many though not all cases of ongoing exploitation also involve the imposition of a further bad state: the creation of ongoing and asymmetric forms of dependence.

When exploiters limit the ability of the exploited to fairly pursue her interests, exploiters commonly foster a scenario in which the exploited must continue to seek out exploitation in order to avoid the badness of her given option. So, despite the fact that exploitation improves the position of the exploited, it also characteristically involves putting the exploited in some agency-impairing situations, situations that involve demeaning choices or ongoing asymmetric vulnerability.

Whether the overall beneficial character of exploitation suffices to render it non-harmful depends on how harm is conceived. View all notes Different counterfactual views specify different scenarios as baselines for comparison. Reasons and Persons. Oxford : Oxford University Press. Both types of counterfactual views struggle to classify exploitation as harmful. On the simple view, exploitation benefits the exploited, rather than harming her. This straightforwardly follows from the fact that exploitation leaves the exploited better-off, overall, than she would have been without interacting with the exploiter.

Moralized views seem to do better at vindicating the claim that exploitation harms, but they also face a related problem: if the exploiter could permissibly refuse to interact with the exploited, then exploitation will make the exploited party better-off than she would have been in at least one scenario where the exploiter acts permissibly. This might explain why non-interaction is impermissible in the cases of interest. But, presumably, many other individuals have similarly strong claims to assistance.

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So, it seems that exploiters might be able to harmlessly exploit some, provided they provide assistance to others. Without a solution to this problem, moralized views will follow the simple view in classifying exploitation as a benefit, rather than harm, at least in some cases. We discuss this further in the following section. Non-comparative theories of harm can more easily accommodate the claim that exploitation harms. Non-comparative theories allow that an act can leave agents better-off, overall, while also harming them For non-comparative theories of harm see Harman Harman, E.

Roberts and D.

Wasserman , — Dordrecht : Springer. For instance, cosmetic surgery might harm someone by physically injuring him and causing him pain, while also benefiting him, by improving his satisfaction with his appearance. This explains why there is a moral presumption against non-consensually performing the surgery, and why people who non-consensually impose these kinds of bad states on others have strong reasons to rectify the situation they have imposed.

JEL classification

Advocates of non-comparative views must explain which bad states are relevant to harm. Plausible accounts will typically regard the outcomes of exploitation discussed above to be among the set of bad-making traits. If non-comparative theories are correct, then it seems very likely that exploitation will count as harm. Various pluralist theories of harm are also possible. For instance, a theory might allow for both comparative and non-comparative harms. Or it might define all harm counterfactually, but allow that different contexts make different counterfactual baselines relevant Tadros Tadros, V.

Oberdiek , — , Oxford: Oxford University Press. Since the first type of pluralist view incorporates the non-comparative view, it too will classify exploitation as a kind of harm. The second view will allow us to classify exploitation as harm provided that it can answer the challenge that the moralized view faces — namely, of explaining why fair terms of cooperation, rather than non-interaction, is the relevant baseline for assessing whether exploiters harm.

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But it may have more resources to answer that challenge than the more straightforward moralized views discussed above do. For the remainder of the paper, we will assume the correct theory of harm is non-comparative. However, we think that much of what we say will apply to other accounts of harm, provided they classify exploitation as harming, in light of its imposition of demeaning choices or asymmetric vulnerability.

Even if exploitation does harm in these ways, it may seem that the kind of harm we discuss could only arise at the interpersonal level. But we believe that the harms in question can arise in the case of international trade and other forms of international negotiation and cooperation.

One reason is that it may make sense to think of countries or peoples being put into the same kinds of harmful conditions that individual persons are. If we take seriously as some political philosophers do the idea that states or the peoples in whose name they govern, can be collective moral agents with interests in freedom and respect, then the parallel between interpersonal exploitation and international exploitation is fairly straightforward Rawls Rawls, J.

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The Law of the Peoples. Cambridge, Massachusets: Harvard University Press. More importantly, the terms agreed upon by national representatives will have effects on the options available to their citizens. This can foreseeably lead to those citizens facing constrained choices in their own lives, and to them being maintained in conditions of asymmetric and significant dependence. When affluent countries make choices that predictably lead to those conditions falling on individual citizens of poor countries, affluent countries cause the same exploitative harm to those individuals.

So far, we have considered the claim that exploitation harms because it imposes demeaning choices and asymmetric vulnerability.

1. Introduction

We have argued that this claim can be easily supported by non-comparative theories of harm, while noting that the claim might also be sustained by other theories, including counterfactual ones. View all notes Applied to the case of global trade, this yields the claim that when rich countries trade with poor countries on exploitative terms, the imposition harms them or their citizens.

We now consider some implications of that argument. If exploitation causes harm, then exploitation requires justification to establish its permissibility; this reflects the moral presumption against harm. One possible explanation of how exploitation could meet this justificatory burden is that it protects the harmed party from the greater harm of having her basic needs go unmet. Exploitation is permissible, on this account, because the harm of basic needs deprivation is worse than the harm associated with accepting the exploitative option.


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We think this explanation fails. It can be permissible to impose harm in order to prevent greater harm. Anaesthesia — Faggella , D. The transhuman transition — Lotus eaters vs world eaters. May Programmatically generated everything PGE. August Koene , R. Embracing competitive balance: The case for substrate-independent minds and whole brain emulation.

In Singularity hypotheses , ed. Eden, E. Steinhart, D. Pearce, and J. Moor, — Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer. Loosemore , R. Qualia surfing. In Intelligence unbound: The future of uploaded and machine minds , ed. Blackford and D. Broderick, — Chichester : Wiley-Blackwell. More, M. A letter to Mother Nature.