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Towards a Unified Theory of Exploitation?


Erik Malmqvist (University of Gothenburg)

András Szigeti (Linköping University/Lund University)

Exploitation is a widespread global phenomenon receiving increased scholarly attention. And yet, exploitation remains puzzling mainly because, while exploitation can involve harm or coercion, it can also occur when transactions are Pareto-superior and consented to by all the parties involved. The proposed panel aims to both deepen and broaden our understanding of the concept of exploitation.

The challenge of depth arises because we need to ask what exactly makes exploitative transactions morally objectionable even when both sides consent to the transaction and both sides benefit from it. While the panel is certainly open to contributions approaching this issue from liberal, Kantian, and Marxist perspectives, we would especially welcome innovative accounts of exploitation that seek to go beyond these established frameworks. We are particularly interested in contributions exploring the idea that what makes exploitation morally wrong is some specific combination of distributive and relational injustice.

We think that it would also be important to broaden the discussion of exploitation. There are important ethical questions to be raised as regards who exactly is to be blamed for exploitation and how the harm of exploitation can be rectified, remediated or prevented. For example, earlier accounts often frame exploitation as a two-party interaction, but in most real-life cases exploitation involves and benefits third parties. Relatedly, exploitation is often thought to be related to broader social injustices, but the nature of this relationship remains insufficiently understood. We also welcome contributions that discuss less frequently analysed instances of exploitation, such as societies’ reliance on “essential workers” during the pandemic or the situation of junior scholars and adjuncts in academia. 

Paper Submissions: The workshop is organized and convened by Erik Malmqvist (University of Gothenburg) and András Szigeti (Linköping University/Lund University). The pre-read sessions will consist of combination of invited talks and selected papers. Each speaker will be given a 55-minute slot with 25 minutes for a summary presentation of the paper and 30 minutes for the Q&A. If you are interested, please send an anonymized abstract of 500 words to or by 22nd May, 2021. Please also include a separate cover sheet with your contact information (name, email, paper title, and affiliation). Authors will receive decisions by 8th June, 2021. Participants selected for the workshop will be asked to submit complete papers by 23rd August, 2021.

Information on MANCEPT: Registration for the conference opens in May. All participants must register to attend.

This year’s fees are:

  • Academics: £45
  • Graduate students, retirees, and unaffiliated attendees: £20
  • Non-speaker/non-presenting attendees: £15

Please note that MANCEPT offers fee-waiver bursaries to attend the conference (available for current graduate students only), and the application deadline for a bursary is 15th June, 2021. To give presenters time to apply for a bursary, authors will receive decisions by 8th June, 2021.