The Instigator
mongoose
Pro (for)
Losing
38 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
47 Points

Sweatshops are ethical

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 19 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/29/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 37,186 times Debate No: 12394
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (123)
Votes (19)

 

mongoose

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for taking this debate.

Contention 1: It improves lives
Sweatshops don't cause harm. They provide better job options than the average job in these third-world countries [1]. They are also voluntary contracts between the employer and the employee. Nobody is forcing them to take these jobs. Now, the source mentions a possiblity of the Chinese government forcing people to work in sweatshops. If this is true, then these are not the core idea of sweatshops, and that would have more to do with communism. Any sweatshops that involve physical force to get people to work are to be ignored by this debate.

I believe that this is all I need for now.

[1] http://www.independent.org...
Danielle

Con

So far in this debate, Pro has cited one contention only: that sweatshops improve lives. Of course he has the burden of explaining how sweatshops improve lives; we can not automatically accept it to be true as that commits the argument from ignorance fallacy. In support of his contention, Pro notes three specific factors:

(a) Sweatshops Don't Cause Harm

Workers allege verbal, physical and sexual abuse by supervisors in sweatshops. So, while the workers aren't "forced" to work in certain places, they must choose (to survive) to work under people who abuse them daily. They also suffer psychological abuse as many are forced to work under armed supervision and are physically assaulted with no legal protection if their productivity is not up to standards. Workers are also forced to work overtime; if they do not work overtime (without extra pay) they are fired - despite overtime obviously not being a part of the contract. Many workers report rape, and again survival mandates they keep their jobs thus more psychological, emotional and physical damage [1].

(b) They Provide Better Jobs Than The Average Jobs

While it's true that wages of sweatshop workers are often higher than the average wage for a citizen in a third world country to live on, there is no evidence that the jobs of sweatshop workers are "better." Simply because one job might pay more than another doesn't make it "better" - especially if the workers are being exploited via working exceptionally long work days, or subject to harsh practices in unsafe conditions.

If "better" simply concerns wages, then essentially the argument is that one could choose to have a dangerous, exhausting and unsafe job in a sweatshop vs. having no job at all, or a job that pays less. While one might choose to work in a sweatshop for their own survival (to afford the costs of minimal standards of living), then in no way does it make sweatshops ethical, but rather shows how they are a means to an end. Indeed something can only be considered a sweatshop in the first place if it specifically aims to keep the workers as poor as possible by maximizing profits for the company while having no regard for employees.

Many economists have suggested that sweatshops actually improve the standard of living because they create a demand for employees. For instance, by paying workers so little, there is a demand for their labor which incrases company investment in their labor. More demand for their labor means competition amongst companies to compete by offering them higher wages and better conditions. While this little scenario seems nice, this is not the reality of what occurs.

In reality, once the workers can demand higher wages or better conditions, companies simply move to another country; they find people who are even more desparate to employ. In this way, they can still pay as little as possible for labor, and all of the people who were once employed by sweatshops in one country lose their jobs thus remaining poor. Demand for their labor doesn't increase because companies simply hire different labor. Their jobs are outsourced putting them once again in a vulnerable position where any labor at all seems better than starvation. So, as you can see, this system is oppressive as it doesn't truly give laborers the opportunity to invest or raise above their current economic standard, nor does it ensure a minimal standard of living. Instead, they are trapped in a vicious cycle that keeps them poor. Capitalism fails in this regard as the idea is that demand for labor will increase, though this actually is not true.

Pro says that having a small wage via sweatshops is better than having a smaller wage from a non-sweatshop. The very core of economics (supply and demand) says otherwise. If the people are poorer, demand will be lower since they will not be able to afford as much. Lower demand means lower prices. We see that reflected in our own society; people are losing their jobs, and as such the cost of things like houses has dropped drastically in order to remain competitive. This is when able people buy which increases their wealth, and gives them the opportunity to invest in business ventures which tend to create more jobs, and so on.

(c) The Workers Choose To Work There Voluntarily

If Pro acknowledges that working in a sweatshop is the best course of action in terms of survival (wages), then he must prove that there is no minimal ethical standard other than survival. This stands contrary to many ethical systems including Kant's categorical imperative. According to this philosophy, we should not treat a rational being merely as a means but always as an end in itself [2].

While it's true that employees will always be used as a means to make a profit, it becomes immoral when employees are seen *merely* as a means for profit; in other words used in a way that's inconsistent with recognizing the employee as a free and rational moral agent. When employers take advantage of unfair situations and desparate workers, they undermine the autonomy of those people who have no other realistic options. Another way of thinking about this is considering "The Golden Rule" of treating people how you'd want to be treated. If you would not consent to being exploited, then you must judge that it would be morally wrong for you to exploit people in that way [3].

== CON'S ARGUMENT CONTD. ==

Another ethical standard is utalitarianism. In other words, we must consider the consequences of how raising workers' wages would affect everyone. In that way, we can see how it would benefit westerners, for instance, because it would give companies less of an incentive to outsource jobs. If outsourcing wasn't a huge factor in American economics, our current economic condition would be better off [4]. As such, even from a purely capitalist standpoint outsourcing does not benefit the market. A company might say they need to outsource in order to "remain competitive" i.e. keep prices low so people still buy their product; however, if people don't have jobs, then they won't have money to buy any products. This is precisely why our mixed economy fails; it rewards people by giving them unearned money (i.e. welfare) which does nothing for competition and innovation (productivity) -- it just ensures that businesses stay afloat by making Americans worse off, and maximizing corporate gains while hurting the people who drive the nation's ecomomy.

Additionally, many companies adhere to (and even promise in their mission statements) corporate responsibility. Corporate Responsibility is when businesses promote the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public. It is the deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making [5]. Because "every man is an island" does not apply to the market, economists agree that corporate responsibility plays a large part in capitalistic gains as the market tends to base certain decisions on social implications. So, ensuring minimal employee standards is even beneficial to the companies itself from an objectivist stance on ethics considering the bad rap of sweatshops [6].

In conclusion, sweatshops are unethical and negative according to a wide array of ethical standards. Thanks, Pro, and good luck.

[1] http://www.hartford-hwp.com...
[2] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[3] Journal of Social Philosophy. 2007. Blackwell Publishing Inc. Volume 38 - Number 4. pp. 620 - 626
[4] http://www.seattlepi.com...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] Bhattacharya, C.B., Sankar Sen and Daniel Korschun. 2008. "Using Corporate Social Responsibility to Win the War for Talent". MIT Sloan Management Review. pp. 37-44. / The Economist. 2005. "The Good Company".
Debate Round No. 1
mongoose

Pro

(a) Sweatshops Don't Cause Harm
In places with the worst conditions, sweatshops can be rather terrible, but still better than death. If they don't want that, they are free to not. The sweatshop can't be causing the harm because the result would be worse without it. If you need to get a shot to not get the flu, the minimal pain felt by the needle is worth not getting the flu. This works the same way. Overall, it relieves harm, it we consider death to be the worst possible result.

Oh, and I believe that they do agree to the unpaid overtime if they agree to be paid a certain amount but need to meet a certain quota.

People aren't forced to work in sweatshops in the same way that sick people aren't forced to go to a hospital. If they don't, they suffer more. Does this mean that hospitals are bad?

(b) They Provide Better Jobs than the Average Jobs
It is clear that sweatshop jobs are "better" because the people take the jobs. If the sweatshop jobs were worse, why would so many people be working there instead of elsewhere? Why would you say they are being exploited? Wouldn't they be exploited more by domestic labor, which pays less? They often have better conditions and better pay.

My opponent offers a terrible definition of a sweatshop, as a place that aims to keep people poor. If it wanted to do that, it wouldn't offer them more money than they already have.

Economists argue that the third-world people have only one comparative advantage over more industrialized nations: The willingness to work cheep. My opponent argues that once they aren't willing to work as cheap, the company will move elsewhere and start over. This acknowledges that it helps people rise above what they used to have, first of all. Second of all, it would be silly to move the entire factory out of one country to another with little reason. The wages aren't going to be going above what they are very soon because they are already high above wages offered by domestic work. For them to be forced to increase wages, there would have to be very few people willing to take the place of the people already working, but instead, people actually line up for these sweatshop jobs to replace their subsistence agriculture. If you talk to many people working in sweatshops, you will find that they like their job, and would be terribly upset if it was gone.

The following conversation is printed in the book Naked Economics between a father of a worker and questioners:

"She is paid $2 a day for a nine-hour shift, six days a week. On several occasions, needles have gone through her hands, and managers have bandaged her up so that she could go back to work."
"How terrible," [they] murmured sympathetically.
[She] looked up, puzzled. "It's good pay," he said. "I hope she can keep that job. There's all this talk about the factories closing now, and she said there are rumors that her factory might close. I hope that doesn't happen. I don't know what she would do then."

While any labor seems better than starvation, some labor is better than other labor. They already have terrible domestic labor. Sweatshops are even better.

As people work in these factories, their human capital improves, so they are better at working. This leads to better pay or competition over others who would work the same job. A company wouldn't want to leave where they already invested so much into human capital.

The vicious cycle does not "keep them poor." It makes them richer than they were before the cycle, and they improve through it. People who have worked for Nike for a long time from third-world countries are able to buy cars. [2] By working in these sweatshops, they are able to actually save money, something they originally couldn't do.

People who manage to have higher wages from sweatshops are able to purchase more. This means that they can buy things that are imported. They are also commonly provided with things like shelter and food, so their wages are even higher than it would seem. I do not see what my opponent is trying to say in that wage increases isn't good.

(c) The Workers Choose to Work There Voluntarily

Looking through Consequentialism [3], because the workers have better jobs than they did before, sweatshops are very ethical. It's hard to say that it is unethical to provide people with something better than they originally had. Say you are walking along, and you see somebody crash into a wall on a bike. They are very injured. You have a dirty sheet that you can use to stop the bleeding, but it might cause a minor infection. What do you do? Doing nothing results in death. Doing something results in minor infection. While it would be more ethical to use a clean sheet, if you don't have one, using a dirty sheet would still be ethical.

Employees are seen as people in need of work that can be provided by the employer, as they always are. You most undermine their autonomy by banning sweatshops and giving them no option to work there. If I was an impoverished worker in a third-world country, I would want to be "exploited" and given a job.

== CON'S ARGUMENT CONTD. ==

My opponent's arguments seem to be more against a mixed economy rather than against sweatshops. Outsourcing is a way of giving the job to the person that deserves it. You can't say that the reason that they don't deserve it is because they aren't western. The westerners don't inherently deserve these jobs, they need to show how they can do it better than the people in third-world countries. Creative destruction kicks in, and new jobs would be created in industrialized countries. You are more saying that welfare is unethical than sweatshops are.

Most sweatshops provide housing and food, so they do give minimal standards.

In conclusion, sweatshops provide jobs for people in third world countries that improve their lives and make the world more productive, and being voluntary and having positive results, are quite ethical.

[1] "Naked Economics" by Charles Wheelan, p. 201
[2] http://www.johannorberg.net...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Danielle

Con

Thanks, Pro, for the round.

(a) Re: Sweatshops Don't Cause Harm

Pro's argument here is not that sweatshops aren't harmful, but that the harm they cause is better than death. You'll notice that nowhere did I disagree with that assessment. However, his whole point in R1 was that sweatshops aren't harmful which is untrue. In R1 I explained specifically how sweatshops are harmful in emotional, physical and mental ways. Pro never disputed this reality meaning he must accept that while working in sweatshops may be preferable to death, they are STILL unnecessarily harmful. Pro's mistake here is obvious: he notes death as being considered the "ultimate harm" by a worker, but in noting that death might be the ultimate harm, that in no way omits the reality that sweatshops are still harmful. Because this is an ethical debate, it will be Pro's burden to explain why humans should be exposed to unnecessary and gravely dangerous harms solely for the purpose of profit (on a personal note, I wonder how he reconciles this view with Christianity...).

(b) Re: Sweatshops = Better Jobs

There are several problems in this section but I'll begin with my opponent's skewed view of what a sweatshop is. He writes, "My opponent offers a terrible definition of a sweatshop, as a place that aims to keep people poor. If it wanted to do that, it wouldn't offer them more money than they already have." Because my opponent seems to disagree with my proposed definition, I'll offer the definition from various credible sources and encourage my opponent to find a better one (as I'd be willing to debate it). Here are some definitions:

1. According to the US Department of Labor, a sweatshop is any factory that violates more than one of the fundamental US labor laws, which include paying a minimum wage and keeping a time card, paying overtime, and paying on time [1].

2. Sweatshop conditions include excessive working hours, forced overtime, poverty wages, child labour, unsafe working conditions, discrimination, verbal and physical abuse [2].

3. A sweatshop is a factory where workers are subject to extreme exploitation, including super-low wages, no benefits, filthy or dangerous working conditions, denial of their worker and human rights. Workers in sweatshops typically work long hours for around .25-.60 cents an hour. They are frequently not paid for overtime. When they try to organize unions to demand better conditions, they are often threatened, beaten, and fired instantly. Sweatshops also frequently include other worker abuses such as child labor, dangerous or toxic working conditions, unreasonably long working hours, sexual abuse, beatings and humiliation for mistakes [3].

As you can see, my depiction of what a sweatshop really is has been very accurate. Moving on to Pro's next mistake, he writes, "It is clear that sweatshop jobs are better because the people take the jobs. If the sweatshop jobs were worse, why would so many people be working there instead of elsewhere?" This only proves that people view working in sweatshops as the best course of option for their survival. However, once again Pro must prove why - according to an ethical standard - people should be subject to the worst possible conditions simply because they view most all and any atrocities as better than death.

Pro writes, "Why would you say they are being exploited?" As I've explained, they are being exploited because they are purposefully being treated as a means to an end with little to no regard for human dignity. While it's obvious that any company's goal is to profit, they can and should find ways to profit while ensuring MINIMAL working requirements to the employees upon whom they depend. As I said, the employees cannot use their labor as leverage for demanding better pay or conditions, because we live in a world where there is always someone "worse off" who devalue the labor of the sweatshop workers.

Pro continues, "Wouldn't they be exploited more by domestic labor, which pays less? They often have better conditions and better pay." I never saw any proof that domestic labor paid less, but nevertheless, the answer is no because with domestic labor we can assume that they're not being abused. As I've explained, to be considered a "sweatshop" mandates abuse of some kind.

Now onto Pro's economic mistakes. He writes, "My opponent argues that once they aren't willing to work as cheap, the company will move elsewhere and start over. This acknowledges that it helps people rise above what they used to have, first of all." This implies that 'rising above' means they can demand higher labor wages. However, since they move elsewhere (which Pro doesn't deny - and he shouldn't, because it's been proven incessantly) then it makes their demands useless and without any weight. In other words, my contention stands. He continues, Second, it would be silly to move the entire factory out of one country to another with little reason..." which demonstrates his ignorance of the way sweatshops actually do this all the time.

Pro lies, "If you talk to many people working in sweatshops, you will find that they like their job, and would be terribly upset if it was gone." No - they will tell you that they hate their job, and that they only sustain those conditions because they want to survive. The only reason they would be upset if it were gone is because they don't understand the supply and demand curve of economics, which apparently my opponent doesn't either (since he never challenged them having less money = the prices of goods in their area goes down).

Next Pro continues implying that sweatshops are ethical simply because people are willing to work in them. Once again, this does not invoke any ethical arguments. Is murder ethical simply because people are willing to kill? One's willingness to engage in something they seem as necessary for their own survival does *not* necessarily make it ethical. Pro's arguments are far-fetched and desperate, such as when he writes, "This leads to better pay or competition over others who would work the same job. A company wouldn't want to leave where they already invested so much into human capital." On the contrary, these workers have little to no value as their jobs are low paying specifically because they require little to know previous knowledge or experience. Their jobs are *incredibly expendable* - the National Labor Committee agrees [4].

Here's another lie - "The vicious cycle does not 'keep them poor.' It makes them richer..." As I explained, the workers stay poor because they cannot demand higher wages for their labor, as their labor is expendable and there are people worse off willing to do their job for less money. Additionally Pro has not proven that sweatshop workers are any "better off" - and just that sweatshops allow them to survive. Again, he must prove through ethical reasoning why they should be treated solely as means to ends (contrary to Kant's categorical imperative as well as the other ethical standards I mentioned in R1).

(c) Re: Voluntary Work / Consequentialism

For reasons I stated above, consequentialism is unsufficient as an ethical standard. Pro's clean sheet analogy is also flawed, as he assumes that without sweatshops the people would die. However, people existed primitively far before sweatshops ever became a reality, and people survive in poor countries without sweatshops (such as in many African nations). This also ignores the reality that without sweatshops the cost of living in 3rd world countries would go down. Again, Pro must explain why it is ethically acceptable to use people SOLELY as a means for profit just because they want to survive.

[1] http://www.globalexchange.org...
[2] http://en.maquilasolidarity.org...
[3] http://www.goodmoney.com...
[4] http://www.nlcnet.org...
Debate Round No. 2
mongoose

Pro

First, I would like you to look at my opponent's final argument. She says that people can survive without sweatshops in many countries, so we can see here that every time she has said that sweatshops are the only means of survival, she was exaggerating.

(a) Sweatshops Don't Cause Harm
I think this is best solved with another analogy, which I hope my opponent will not ignore this time. Say there is a terrible disease rampant in third world countries. There is a cure, but it involves the loss of both legs. Somebody manages to produce a cure that, instead of losing both legs, makes them lose both toes. While it is still unfortunate that they end of losing both of their toes, it is much better than losing both legs. However, losing both toes is clearly harmful. Does this mean that it is unethical to give them this better cure? Not at all. Providing better alternatives is clearly ethical.

(b) Sweatshops = Better Jobs
Here my opponent presents us with several completely unbiased definitions of sweatshops. Or not.

The first one is actually credible, yet mentions nothing about abuse or conditions as it all has to do with payment. It could be in an area with air-conditioning and still fit this description.

The second one is clearly one fighting for what it believes to be workers rights, as it says "We advocate a living wage" and all sorts of other biased stuff. It can't be considered impartial. Just read what it says.

The third is filled with individual links to places against sweatshops, such as Feminists Against Sweatshops, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops, and No Sweat: Union-Made Sweatshop-Free Casual Apparel. Very impartial, right?

Let's go to a better definition: the DICTIONARY: a shop employing workers at low wages, for long hours, and under poor conditions. [1] All these words (low, long, and poor) are relative to western standards, so poor conditions means worse than western factories, which alone isn't all that bad considering what it could be.

My opponent then asks why these people should be "forced" to work in these conditions. The answer is that life is not fair, but it doesn't help to prevent them from taking the best options that they can get. Unless my opponent has some kind of magical plan to improve their lives, there is no reason to oppose the sweatshops. My opponent contradicts herself, again, by calling them "the worst possible conditions simply because they view most all and any atrocities as better than death." What about the way the existed without sweatshops? They could go back to that. But they don't want to. The life without sweatshops is the "worst."

My opponent doesn't seem to be contradicting herself repeatedly. You say that an increase in wage wouldn't help, yet their wages are too low? How does that follow? Additionally, many companies do provide housing and food, which isn't even factored into the wage. They could provide less than they do, but they usually provide about twice as much as domestic labor would provide.

My opponent apparently never looked at my first source in the first round, which went into detail about how much better sweatshops paid compared to domestic labor. My second source in the second round was miscopied, so I will post it here: [2]. It states that the workers in these sweatshops are able to now afford cars and put their children through education instead of early work. They also work in better conditions than others. Isn't this a great thing?

When a Senator decided that he disliked foreign child labor, he got a boycott passed. What was the effect? Did these kids go to school? Not a chance. They worked in worse jobs, like "stone-crushing, street hustling, and prostitution." [3] These jobs are filled with abuse. Why would they not be abused in these domestic jobs? As I've pointed out, sweatshops don't require abuse to be sweatshops, based on my opponent's only credible definition and my own. The typical domestic job is subsistence farming, trash picking, or prostitution.

About the movement of a factory: For one thing, I've found no sources of this, as any search for "move" or "relocate" mentions only the initial outsourcing. For another, this means that world-wide, GDP will go up at a steady rate as the poorer will get the jobs. Otherwise, you have some who keep the sweatshops with higher wages, and others who get no sweatshops. They want sweatshops. I'll use another analogy. There is an ice cream man who goes by once. He won't be there forever. You want ice cream. Should you force him to stay, or not buy from him because he's not going to be there forever? If you demand that you get the ice cream for a cheaper price, he'll just move on. And that is his right.

Next my opponent uses the basic laws of economics to refute... most expert economists who have talked of the matter. Wait, what?

When these workers work in sweatshops, they produce more and earn higher wages. They are then able to save money and purchase more on a global market. This is how some people end up saving enough to buy cars. Now, the others who don't work in sweatshops who would sell goods to these people now working in sweatshops may raise their prices, but not enough to counteract their increase in wage. Now the people who don't work in sweatshops, who are less productive, have less purchasing power than those who do work in sweatshops. This inspires them to be more productive and earn more money. Otherwise, there would be no point to ever getting more money. Not all people get employed by sweatshops.

Hey, let's compare something to murder, and it is clearly not ethical! I can't believe that my opponent is actually using this argument. The clear difference between the two is that sweatshops require consent, while murder does not. If one was willing to be murdered, it would no longer truly be murder, so there is a clear distinction. Again, my opponent has agreed that sweatshops are not necessary for survival. They are a better option.

While they can't demand even higher wages, they are already, by working in a sweatshop, receiving higher wages than they would elsewhere. This allows for them to save money, such that some of them even manage to buy cars [2]. How does this constitute as poor, especially compared to those who do not work at sweatshops? Sweatshops clearly make them better off compared to those still in subsistence agriculture, prostitution, and trash picking for half the wage. Ethically, as I pointed out in my analogy earlier this round, sweatshops are good. They provide better results for those consenting.

(c) Voluntary Work / Consequentialism

I don't actually see any reason why "consequentialism is unsufficient [sic] as an ethical standard." My opponent seems to believe that for it to be ethical, it must have some kind of spirited motive. That doesn't matter. What matters is that everybody is overall benefited. How that this not be ethical? The sweatshops don't put these people in these conditions. That would be confusing cause and effect. Their conditions cause their best option to be sweatshops.

My opponent must explain how it can possibly NOT be ethical for people to make a consensual exchange in which both are benefitted above what they otherwise would have been.

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2] http://www.johannorberg.net...
[3] http://www.unicef.org... p.15
Danielle

Con

(a) Re: Sweatshops Don't Cause Harm

In R1 Pro began his argument with the statement "Sweatshops don't cause harm." If I am bringing up the moral question of whether or not you should impose harmful conditions simply because you can, I first had to prove Pro was mistaken in writing that sweatshops aren't harmful. I have spent the past 2 rounds detailing explicitly how sweatshops are harmful. Pro never argued that the conditions I mentioned weren't harmful, so I'm assuming he concedes that things like cheating employees out of pay, sexual harassment, forced overtime (with threat of termination), etc. are in fact harmful. While I fully acknowledge that employees may choose to work in sweatshops because they consider it better than death (i.e. choosing to lose toes rather than legs), this debate is about whether or not being subject to make that choice unnecessarily is ethical. Sweatshops obviously cause harm (even if you view those harms as favorable to death) which was my point all along.

(b) Re: Sweatshops Are Better Jobs

Pro does not agree with my depiction of sweatshops and claims my description is biased. Since he notes that my first source in the last round was a credible one, let's go with their depiction of sweatshops since it's a source he accepts:

"Verbal, physical and sexual abuse are common. Workplace injuries occur regularly... In the grueling atmosphere of desperate cost-cutting by corporations, work is accorded little value and, by extension, workers are afforded little dignity. Viewed more as production units than as people, sweatshop workers regularly suffer abuse and intimidation from factory supervisors... Workplace injuries and exposure to toxic chemicals also pose a daily risk to apparel workers... Sexual abuse is endemic" [1].

Again, this is the depiction of sweatshops presented from the source my opponent agreed was credible. Moreover, the very definition Pro gave us from the dictionary specifies that "poor conditions" must exist in order to be considered a sweatshop; conditions outside of the other negatives they mentioned (low wages and long hours). So, I think it's safe to say that semantics aside, we all know what a sweatshop is and that there should be no doubt that they are harmful (the same source also notes that to be considered a sweatshop, there have to be multiple harmful conditions).

While you might think it's the actions of the employers that are harmful and not the sweatshops themselves, the fact is that the term "sweatshop" REFERS to these harms specifically, or else they would not be considered sweatshops at all. Additionally, Pro asserts that he cannot find any proof of sweatshops relocating to find employees who will work for lower wages. That's funny because I found several, including this one which notes a "race to the bottom as multinationals leap from one low-wage country to another in a quest for the cheapest production costs" [2].

Pro says that sweatshops are ethical because in some (rare) cases they provide food and shelter. That's true - "In some cases, a sweatshop may provide housing and food for workers, essentially keeping them on the grounds of the facility at all times, and employees may be denied access to the outside world, which includes labor advocates, family members, and law enforcement" [3]. In other words, the sweatshops that grant these "provisions" actually treat their employees like they're in concentration camps.

Pro writes, "Next my opponent uses the basic laws of economics to refute most expert economists who have talked of the matter. Wait, what? ... My opponent apparently never looked at my first source in the first round, which went into detail about how much better sweatshops paid compared to domestic labor." On the contrary, I did read that source -- a source that noted many economists are AGAINST sweatshops. Pro's own source mentions:

"The letter [against sweatshops] had 434 signatories - 73 percent of whom were economists. At least one scholarly article by an economist, (Miller 2003) 'Why Economists are Wrong About Sweatshops,' has criticized the mainstream economic view of sweatshops." So, if Pro's trying to use economists to argue ethics (which is flawed in and of itself), then his own fallacious appeal to authority in noting that economists must have all the answers about *ethics* makes his standard faulty, at best, considering many economists are indeed against sweatshops.

Moreover, Pro's same source notes that while multinational corporations may pay a higher average than the average, it also points out, "While this is true, it does not speak to the situation in which most garments are produced throughout the world – which is by firms subcontracted by multinational corporations, not the MNCs themselves." So as you can see, Pro's own source indicates that there is still much dispute in the economic community about the effects of sweatshops and their harms. Therefore, you cannot ignore the arguments I made in the last round about supply, demand, and workers' wages simply because Pro referenced some economists who are pro-sweatshops. I have noted the same source mentioning some economists AGAINST sweatshops, meaning you must consider the economic arguments Pro made against mine which were non-existent.

(c) Re: Voluntary Work / Ethical Standards - CI vs. Consequentialism

This is an ethical debate. Pro writes, "Life is not fair, but it doesn't help to prevent them from taking the best options that they can get." I never once said not letting them work in sweatshops was the ethical solution (nor did I mention any solution possibility), so this is a blatant strawman of my arguments. Once again, the ethical standard I raised was Kant's Categorial Imperative which my opponent never responded to directly. It states that human beings should not be treated as a means but always as an end in itself. Once employees are used *solely* as a means (profit) without consideration of any other standard, it is inconsistent with the CI whether the people agree to work in those conditions or not.

When employers take advantage of bad situations and desparate workers, they undermine the autonomy of those people who have no better options (we agree that death is not better). Consequentialism in the way Pro used it views human beings solely as tools to use for your advantage, which stands contrary to the CI though Pro never explained why his standard is better. As I have explained, consequentialism fails - particularly if you believe in objective morality (which Pro does). A prima facie wrong action - such as the deliberately unjust punishment of an innocent person - is unethical even if the consequences benefit another.

Egoism prescribes that actions may be ethical even if they are detrimental to the welfare of others. Consequentialism expands beyond EE to include even ethical systems contrary to EE such as utalitarianism. So, I can easily use Pro's standard (consequentialism) to say why sweatshops are unethical -- because the consequences of the impact they have on society (or most people) are not morally worth the employer's profit. Consent to work does not answer the moral question of whether one should be subject to something simply because they can be. Consequentialism does not adequately distinguish between positive and negative responsibility. The claim is that consequentialism is indifferent between states of affairs that are produced by what an agent does and those that occur because of what someone else would do that the agent could prevent. Measuring consequences is a problem; it also undermines an agent's integrity [4].

For these reasons, the CI is superior to consequentialism (at least so far as Pro has explained it).

[1] From #1 Source Last Round
[2] http://www.spiritus-temporis.com...
[3] http://www.wisegeek.com...
[4] http://www.bookrags.com...
Debate Round No. 3
123 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Silver_Falcon 3 years ago
Silver_Falcon
@reddj2: Then a little more then century most people were slaves. Children labor used to by normal since all family (of common folk) had to work really hard to survive.
Only in recent centuries the productivity risen sharply so we can have lot of free time.
Posted by reddj2 3 years ago
reddj2
If most workers work with little next to no time to live then they are slaves
I mean
-no free time :time being used only to eat,sleep,poo, procreate and work
Posted by Silver_Falcon 3 years ago
Silver_Falcon
Pardon my grammar.
Errata:
workers then would be divided...
short-time adversities not adversaries
Posted by Silver_Falcon 3 years ago
Silver_Falcon
If I was PRO, I would connect evaluation of ethicality to utility of all people or of workers. The fact that they voluntarily choose the work in sweatshop a not other means of work -> work in sweatshop benefits them. Then I would point that increasing wages and other costs of benefits for workers would mean that less of them could be employed (for the money that corporation invests). The worker then would be divided to privileged group which would get more money and unprivileged group that would have to find much less preferable work. Therefore we can see company can fall in US definition of sweatshop* by bringing better working opportunity to maximal number of poor workers. And we cannot say it is per se less ethical then company who brings even better opportunity to much less people - quite contrary.
When Con argues about outsourcing being bad for lets say US economy, it can be proven that while it has some short-time adversaries for workers of that company, people on the world are actually better off - cheap stuff, more capital to be invested -> creation of new jobs even in US.
For example
http://www.mackinac.org...
http://www.cato.org...

I would not argue, that some sweatshops cannot be unethical - indeed there are lots of unethical conduct. But it's by no mean necessary attribute of sweatshop, but rather misconduct or fraud.

I would also attack union's positions as they are quite a loud group in the debate and talk about consequences of their policies and their hypocrisy that can be easily shown (want to protect their jobs and benefits at cost of everyone else including workers seeking jobs).

*The U.S. Government Accountability Office defines a sweatshop as an employer that violates more than one federal or state labor law governing minimum wage and overtime, child labor, industrial homework, occupational safety and health, worker's compensation or industry regulation. )
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Posted by DylanAsdale 4 years ago
DylanAsdale
"If this is true, then these are not the core idea of sweatshops, and that would have more to do with communism. Any sweatshops that involve physical force to get people to work are to be ignored by this debate."

The rules of the debate are clear, as set forth by the instigator.

My opinion of this particular debate is interesting considering one of my comments on another debate I commented on. It was a debate where the topic said "Vegetarianism is wrong". I said that I would vote for anyone who takes the "Con" position in any debate whose topic is a subjective opinion. I will have to contradict myself for this particular debate, and extend my statement to reflect the following: "I will vote for Con in any debate whose topic is in the following format: '[thing] [am/is/are/was/were] ["unethical" or synonym for "unethical"]'".

My reasons for voting for Pro are thus:

I have created an objective system to determine the morality of any "[thing]". To determine the inherent morality of any "[thing]", I simply look at whether the "[thing]" has resulted from mutual compliance. "Sweatshops", as defined by Pro, are clearly within the boundaries of mutual compliance. As Pro has already cast out doubt by telling us that, for purposes of this debate, only mutually compliant "sweatshops" are to be the topic of discussion, Pro gets my vote.
Posted by Paris 4 years ago
Paris
By the way my conduct vote is basically in reference to the comments section, not the debate.
Posted by Paris 4 years ago
Paris
Both debaters went on economic tangents that were irrelevant to this debate. Pro relied on economics this whole time both with his sources and arguments. He kept trying to prove that sweatshops were preferred by economists which means nothing in terms of ethics.

From an ethical standpoint, Con asked how sweatshops were ethical and Pro basically said they were ethical because they improved lives, and this was proven by both parties (employer and employee) agreeing to them. However Con argued against this saying that mutual agreement was irrelevant in considering several moral systems such as utalitarianism, or the categorical imperative, considering the individuals agreeing to work there being comprimised by desperate situations.

Basically Con gave several explanations as to how sweatshops were unethical and Pro only gave one to explain why they were ethical (mutual consent). When Con negated the mutual consent argument, Pro never debated it or explained why his position was better. He simply said "How is it NOT ethical" instead of explaining how it IS ethical which is why he didn't fulfill his burden in the debate.

In terms of sources, Con had double the amount of sources that Pro did. Pro's sources were the dictionary and Wiki (which don't really count), a Libertarian link (which equals the same bias as Con's sources) and links from economists saying they think that sweatshops are beneficial. Well just because something is profitable (which is what economists look at) doesn't mean it's ethical which Con explained in the debate. Con also had links to scholarly articles pertaining to various ethical issues such as business ethics and links that actually stayed relevant to the topic at hand (ethics). In short I just think Con's quality of sources were better and Pro's burden was unfulfilled.
Posted by mongeese 4 years ago
mongeese
"Debates can ignore?"

You didn't get the memo? Debates now have the rights and functions of humans. It's the new Supreme Court ruling.
Posted by mongoose 4 years ago
mongoose
""Any sweatshops that involve physical force to get people to work are to be ignored by this debate."
Debates can ignore?"

As in I don't have to defend them as being ethical.
Posted by cjl 4 years ago
cjl
Funny
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