Abrams behind this productive façade there are key exploitations

Abrams and Sattar (2017) recently published an article in “The New York
times” about Bangladesh and how it is known for its cheap and productive labor.
It is the second largest producer of low-cost textiles in the world, behind
China (Ahmed, 2013) and Bangladesh’s textile manufacturing industry accounts
for 79% of the Bangladesh’s GDP (Ahmed, 2013). Yet behind this productive
façade there are key exploitations that drive its success, such as unsafe
working conditions, low pay, long hours, and no functioning unions due to the
increasing demand for cheaper labor and higher production. This prolonged abuse
caused protest over the rights of the workers in these Bangladeshi factories,
Abrams and Sattar (2017) explained. On top of the previously mentioned exploitations,
according to Ahmed (2013), Bangladeshi workers also face low pay. Sometimes the
workers’ compensation is as low as $0.32 cents an hour (Ahmed, 2013).
Additionally, this lack of basic rights, and alarming working conditions caused
the death of over 1.100 workers in 2013 (Abrams & Sattar, 2017). This
tragedy was due to employees of the factory being forced to participate in the
same exploitative situations explained previously and were threatened with loss
of pay or employment if they resisted (Abrams & Sattar, 2017). While first
world nations may consider the problem of captive employment to only be
restricted to third world countries, it is not. A second example involves
working conditions in a first world country such as American prisons. According
to Sykes (1956) employment during incarceration is considered a part of
rehabilitation. The work is meant to allow prisoners to learn responsibility;
dependability and life skills useable upon release, he explains. While acquiring such life skills is often what
is perceived as the intended purpose of labor, the reality of prison employment
rehabilitation programs is different. “The Economist” recently reported in an
article titled Prison labor is a billion dollar industry (2017) that
private manufacturing companies profit billions a year off of the forced labor
of inmates. Blau & GrinBerg (2016) elaborated that, in 2016, across 24
states in the United States, 50.000 prisoners protested against the prison work
program, one of the largest inmate strikes in American history. The decision to
protest arose from claims of, similar to that of workers in Bangladesh,
unsanitary/unsatisfactory working conditions, low, or in some cases, the
absence of salary, an inability to stop participation in the program and ultimately,
because of the profiteering from the prison labor system (Blau & GrinBerg,
2016). The strike, as further explained by Blau & Grinberg (2016), pushed
several of the prisons into a temporary lock down due to the refusal of the
prisoners to participate in their scheduled tasks and many prisoners objected
to leaving their cells when commanded by authority. Thus, captive labor is a
problem seen throughout the world within the manufacturing industry but in
differing ways, although, it is not without similarity. Its large-scale presence
makes it a significant world issue. The morality of captive labor should be
assessed because its practices affect millions of families and with further
awareness change can be brought. Therefore, the main question is, to what extent
is the manufacturing industry based on captive employees morally acceptable?                                                                             In
research of this topic, a literature review will be used. The literature review
consists of
academic articles and several newspaper articles about the two contrasting
moral viewpoints of deontology and utilitarianism, captive
employment, and relevant current events pertaining to the matter of captive
labor within the manufacturing industry. This information was compiled
using university provided platforms, such as the University Library and online
academic archives. The second section will focus on the definitions of
important phrases and vocabulary such as captive labor and morality
to help bring simplicity and understanding to the arguments discussed. Also
included in the second section will be an explanation of philosopher Immanuel
Kant’s theory of deontology and the contrasting ideology by Jeremy Bentham of
utilitarianism. In the third section, the aforementioned information will be
used to dispute the moral legitimacy of captive labor in the manufacturing
industry. The third section will be directly
followed by an explanation of limitations of this
research and suggestions for further inquiry into the topic of captive labor in the
manufacturing industry and morality. Finally, the dispute will
be concluded using information given throughout the literature review to
determine to what extent captive labor is moral in the manufacturing
industry. The conclusion will then be followed by a collection of the references
used throughout the literature review.                                                                                                                                                   First
of all, to achieve understanding in the following sections of this article key
terms and ideas will be defined. Captive employment is described as employees
with an absence of outside opportunities (Abrams & Sattar 2017; Prison labour is a billion
dollar 2017). Captive laborers in the United States and third world countries
such as Bangladesh are forced to participate in repetitive jobs. American
captive employees are coerced into doing menial jobs and physically intensive
tasks, including manufacturing, during incarceration as punishment or
rehabilitation but in modern times captive labor has been viewed as immoral and
less accepted as a valid form of reformation due to progressive human rights
and contemporary ideology on morality of involuntary labor (Prison labour is a
billion dollar, 2017). While many third world countries suffer from the
situation of legal captive labor due to lower labor standards and poverty (Neumayer & De Soysa, 2006), a loophole that allows a developed nation such as the
United States to keep up with legal forced employment and which also allows
private manufacturing companies to profit from inmates is found in the 13th
amendment of the United States constitution. The 13th amendment was created
in 1865 and abolished slavery except under the circumstance that it was used as
punishment for a crime. Secondly, to understand how captive employment is
linked to morality, it must be explained. Morality can be defined as how one’s
beliefs are shaped by the social world around them or what one recognizes as
just due to social norms and expectations or how society uniformly accepts or
rejects certain practices (Blasi, 1990). The morality of captive employment in
United States prisons is argued with the principle that the program is for
rehabilitation (Sykes, 1956). Rehabilitation is characterized
as teaching and educating inmates about life skills that allow them to more
easily re-assimilate into society in hopes it will hinder reoffence (Phelps,
2011). Although rehabilitation is only used as a loophole to retain legality of
captive labor in the United States, captive employment is universally and
ultimately used as a way to increase profits by cutting production costs by
private companies (Prison labor is a billion dollar, 2017). While the
above-mentioned definitions are helpful to understand the jargon, they alone do
not determine morality of forced labor. To help determine the integrity of the
use of involuntary labor two philosophical viewpoints are discussed. The two
opposing views that help justify the morality of actions and consequences are
the deontological and utilitarian views. Firstly, 18th century theorist,
Immanuel Kant, created the theory of deontology. Deontology states, according
to Conway & Gawronski (2013), that morality of a situation is hinged to the
accepted norms of society and rules, such as the example that murder is bad
because it is illegal. In contrast, the alternative view of utilitarianism that
was developed by philosopher Jeremy Bentham, implies that morality is based on
the situation’s outcome not the act itself (Conway & Gawronski, 2013). As an example,
utilitarianism would agree that it would be acceptable for a doctor to
euthanize a healthy patient, against their will, for the sake of using their
organs to save several other sick patients. Deontological and utilitarian views
are crucial to understanding morality because they give contrasting insight
into how situations are viewed as moral or immoral.                                                                                                 Now that relevant terms have been clarified, this
section will discuss and compare the two contrasting viewpoints of
deontology and utilitarianism. The deontological view, also known as
non-consequentialism, says means cannot justify ends (Conway & Gawronski, 2013).
When examining captive labor with the deontological view, it would be easy to
assume it as immoral. This is because accepted social norms are against
involuntary labor. The intended outcomes of rehabilitation and higher profits
do not justify the unsatisfactory treatment and working conditions of captive
laborers. An employee is classified as a person who voluntarily contracts
himself in exchange for compensation (Simon, 1951) thus, making captive
employment not employment at all because it is not voluntary nor is the
compensation sufficient for the amount of effort expended, making it modern day
slavery. Slavery is, as clear to many, not an accepted social norm in a modern
context. Deontology also stresses that human rights must be considered in actions
regardless of the potential benefit of the outcomes (Portmore, 1996), meaning
that one’s rights should not be violated in order for the other party’s welfare
to increase. Human rights, as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (UDHR), are “the right to be free from torture, arbitrary arrest and
detention” and “the right to work, the right to rest, and the right to leisure”
(Risse & Skikkink, 1999, p. 2). Due to the exploitative nature of captive
labor it can be considered a violation of human rights as many of the above
mentioned basic human rights are absent in the treatment of captive employees.
The Utilitarian view, on the other hand, also known as consequentialism, says
the ends can justify action if the ends are positive or create more welfare
than was lost through the action (Habibi, 2007). At face value, when the latter
is applied to captive labor markets such as those in the United States and
Bangladesh, this assumes forced employment as moral. The situation of
underpaid, overworked, and neglected employees comes with the intended outcome
of rehabilitation and a lesser rate of re-offence upon release in the United
States (Sykes, 1956) and the outcome of higher profit and more investment
in third world countries such as Bangladesh (Neumayer, & De Soysa, 2006).
If convicts do not reoffend, in the case of American prisons, and companies
turn more profit, according to Cowen & Tabarrok (2015), this will allow for
cheaper products and potential expansion which ultimately results in creation of
more jobs. If implemented in this way, captive labor would then indeed have
created more welfare than was potentially destroyed by the abuse. While the
captive labor market harms its workers, it also allows a reliable income and
employment when options are limited or absent entirely. It is initially harmful
to the worker but its outcomes benefit not only the people participating and
the manufacturing companies but also their families who depend on the
employment (Powell & Zwolinski, 2011). Thus, by the utilitarian view, the
poor treatment, unsafe environments and petty pay is moral due to the
“positive” outcomes. Ergo, as Habibi (2007) argues, the utilitarian
outlook allows for the most support of human rights because its principles
promote the welfare of the most amount of people because although some were
harmed when the action took place, many more potentially benefited by the
consequence of said actions.                                                                                                                                         Now
that utilitarianism and deontology have been explained, this section will focus
on comparing the two stances. While deontology and utilitarianism have
interesting stances, it is believed that, as theorized by Williams (1979),
utilitarian ideals permit and promote “socially unacceptable” behaviors.
He contends that this line of thinking often attempts to rationalize actions
that are clearly immoral under any circumstance. Williams (1979) goes on to
explain that utilitarianism is often implemented when the agent does something
they are aware is against common norms and wish to diminish their own emotional
response, making the use of utilitarian principles rarely rational. Ultimately,
captive labor in the manufacturing industry may bring about some
potentially positive outcomes, such as “rehabilitation” in America and excess
employment in Bangladesh, it is not fair to say that these “goods” or
end products make the action moral due to the initial exploitation of the
worker never being moral or just in modern society. Moreover, utilitarian views
are not a valid point of reference when considering moral legitimacy of actions
but rather a coping mechanism for those who have participated in acts they are
aware are dishonest (Williams, 1979). Deontology however provides a sound idea
due to its base being in the moral framework accepted by society and its use
minimizes risk of violating any human rights (Portmore, 1996). Portmore (1996)
reasoned that deontology is sympathetic to all human nature and human needs,
not just those who benefit from outcomes of the initial action, which is absent
in utilitarianism. Deontology claims that, as said by Trianosky (1990), if the attributes
behind the action are good, the consequence is always just. Therefore, actions
that are produced in righteousness will always lead to a sound mind and
acceptance within society.                                                                                                                        Finally, in this
section, before conclusions are given, it must be
stated that these findings are provisional. There are information gaps that
should be addressed in further research to be able to come to more sound
conclusions. The main issue discovered was that there is minimal
research done on where the line of moral labor begins and ends and at
what circumstance labor is considered immoral. Captive labor in manufacturing
industries are extreme cases but according to the logic used in the research
above, there could be less extreme cases of captive labor. One such case could
be that working a job one does not want to work, such as a lawyer having to
bartend due to a failing economy and a shortage of employment, but must stay
due to financial constraints, is immoral. Thus, further insight is required to
find the tipping point of where aspects of labor are considered moral or
immoral. Understanding when employment becomes captive makes its existence less
subjective in terms of social acceptance and is key to determining its definite
morality. Moreover, if this issue of which attribute of labor causes labor to
be considered captive labor was addressed further, it is likely that results
would yield that captive labor is considered captive when the following two
conditions are satisfied; firstly, the laborer earns a menial wage in
comparison to other workers in the same market around the world and secondly,
when labors are denied basic rights such as sanitary and safe working
conditions and are subject to termination or loss of income if there is
objection to participate under the two previously mentioned situations.                                                                                                       Conclusively, the goal of
this research was to discover whether captive labor is morally legitimate in
the manufacturing industry. The main finding was that utilitarianism offers a
view that can skew the perception of morality convincing one that socially
unjust practices, such as captive labor, are just. The aforementioned view is not
a valid outlook due to its basis being in emotional dissonance and does not
offer true justification of actions according to what is socially accepted as
right or moral. Deontology offers more sound judgment in terms of morality
of situations as it incorporates societal values and accepted norms. Thus, due
to the violation of human rights in the use of utilitarianism and the presence
of social interest in the use of deontology, it is concluded that captive labor
is negatively related to moral legitimacy in the manufacturing industry.