Economics and Philosophy

Essays

In Defence of Exploitation

Justin Schwartza1

a1 Ohio State University Law School

Roemer has a striking and novel criticism of Marx's thesis that capitalism is exploitative. Even if so, Roemer claims, that does not establish that it is morally objectionable. He argues from idealized models that involve what he calls ‘Marxian exploitation’, but do not have the consequences which, he says, Marxists think make exploitation bad – domination, alienation, and inequality – or have them only in unobjectionable ways. These models, Roemer thinks, show that the moral problem with capitalism that Marxian exploitation locates only imperfectly is unjust inequality. He develops an alternative notion of ‘property relations exploitation’, based on this charge, to replace the morally uninteresting notion of Marxian exploitation in assessing arguments for socialism.