Sweatshops: Kant and Consequences

Business Ethics Quarterly 17 (1):115-133 (2007)

Abstract

Arnold and Bowie (2003) attempt to derive ethical constraints on the actions of the managers of multinational enterprises (MNEs), orthe MNEs themselves, from a Kantian perspective. We contest Arnold and Bowie’s claims regarding MNE duties, in particular that MNEs have a duty to pay a subsistence wage above market levels. We conclude that even within Arnold and Bowie’s Kantian framework such a duty does not properly emerge. In addition, we argue that the account of coercion used by Arnold and Bowie does not serve their purposes. Arnold and Bowie address consequentialist issues by arguing that their conclusions are not undercut by economic considerations regarding unemployment. We argue that Arnold and Bowie have misread the economic literature in this regard

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