Finance & Accounting

Essay On Sweatshops

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Word Count

1500 words


Business Ethics


2 Days

Assignment Criteria

  1. Why does Nozick deny that justice requires attention to patterns of distribution?
    Explain and analyse Nozick's theory and compare this account with John Rawls' theory of distributive justice. Explain which theory you find most convincing, and why.
  2. Milton Friedman argues that the social responsibility of business is to increase profits.  What particular challenges to Friedman's argument are posed by low-cost labour outsourcing?  Do these challenges undermine Friedman's argument?  Use an actual example to illustrate your answer.
  3. 'It is up to a country’s government to set the local laws, and businesses must follow them.'Under what circumstances would it be unethical for a Multi National Corporation (MNC) that is operating in a foreign country to comply with local laws? Use at least one actual example to illustrate your answer.
  4. Consider the argument that ‘Sweatshops cannot be unethical, because after all people choose to work in them.’ Explain and analyse this argument, and the arguments that might be made against it. Critically evaluate these arguments and give reasons why you agree or disagree.
  5. Drawing on the main theories of environmental ethics, discuss the environmental issues that the business of mining raises. Do these issues justify a tax targeted solely at the mining industry?
  6. Assuming an anthropocentric (instrumental) view of the environment, is it true that conservationists and corporations will always be in conflict? Use an actual example and give reasons to support your answer.
  7. What limits (if any) should be placed on corporate lobbying of government? Refer to Kantian and utilitarian perspectives in your answer.
  1. How do Sorrell and Hendry 'Narrow and Broad Business Ethics' distinguish narrow and broad business ethics for firms or industries? How does this analysis apply to EITHER

(i) the ethics of discrimination and affirmative action?   OR

(ii) the ethics of whistleblowing?

 Does Albert Carr's argument that business bluffing is ethical support or challenge Arrington's conclusions about advertising? Defend your answer with careful argument and reference to at least one example.

  1.  In addition to claiming that corporations have no moral responsibilities beyond profit maximisation, Friedman also claims that corporations must maximise profits because they operate in competitive markets for capital, labour, products and so on. Focusing on the issue of product safety, discuss whether you agree with this claim and the implications for business ethics.

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Assignment Solution


Several aspects of the material lifestyle of an average person from the West can be ascribed to trade relations between the developed countries and Asia. A large proportion of the clothes worn, the toys children play with, and also the technology used, is produced somewhere in Asia. Trade, as well as commerce with major developing countries, is essential for the continued economic growth of the developed countries, as their total manufacturing investments in developing countries are in billions of dollars and huge numbers of plants in these countries operate on a contract basis with companies in the developed nations. Most of the developed nations have engaged in sweatshop production facilities at some point in time on a very large scale (Wong, 2015). As the Western countries continue with their long-standing tradition of encouraging these sweatshops, an ethical question about these business practices is being increasingly raised.  However, most of the people are unaware that their hunger for consumerism has given rise to a very controversial industry, and like the goods manufactured in foreign countries are usually more than what meets the eye, the topic 'Sweatshops cannot be unethical, because after all people choose to work in them' is  very intricate (Wong, 2015).  

Various arguments can be made in support of the above topic but before starting with the arguments let us consider the definition of sweatshops. The definition is very broad comprising any factory that may have overseers who are unreasonably authoritative, dangerous as well as unhealthy (both psychologically as well as physically) working conditions, and also enforces long hours of work with low pay. It also frequently includes a factory that employs child labour (What is a sweatshop?, 2015). The arguments made in favour are that it is optional for the people to work in sweatshops. What people do not notice is that workers choose, out of their own free as well as voluntary will to work in sweatshops at the wages they give and under the conditions that exist there. That means that all the other alternatives available to them are worse and therefore sweatshops are ethical (Powell & Skarbek, 2006). 

As per the economists, the people of the countries of the third world have only one comparative advantage as compared to the people of the more industrialized countries. That is they are willing to work for lesser wages. Many people usually line up to take these sweatshop jobs in order to do away with their subsistence on agriculture. Several people working in sweatshops like their job, and they would be highly upset that job goes away (Modiano, 2015). As per Consequentialism as workers have jobs better than what they had before sweatshops cannot be said to be unethical. It is difficult to state that it is unethical to give people something better than what they originally had. They are present as a result of voluntary contracts that exist between the employee and the employer and these jobs are not forced upon the employees. People are not forced to work there (Darwell, 2015). Another view to support this argument is that sweatshops do not cause any harm. They can be very bad in some places but are still a better option compared to starving to death. Therefore, the outcome can be worse without sweatshops. The workers agree upon the unpaid overtime in case they are paid a certain amount. However, for that, they are needed to achieve a certain quota. The sweatshops provide job options that are better than the average job options in the developing countries. If the sweatshops are not good, why do so many people work there instead of working somewhere else? Why do we say that they are being exploited (Danielle, 2015)? 

On the other hand, several arguments can be made against the above argument. If it is to be believed that working in a sweatshop is the best possible action in terms for survival (wages), in that case, it must also be proved that other than survival issue there is no minimal ethical standard. This is in contradiction to several ethical systems including the categorical imperative of Kant. As per this philosophy, a rational being should not be treated only as a means but every time as an end in itself. Although it is true that employees are always used as a means to make profits, the situation becomes highly immoral when the employees are viewed 'merely' as a means for making profits. In other words, they are being used in a way that is not consistent with recognizing the employees as free as well as rational moral agents. When the employers take advantage of these unfair situations and the workers who are desperate, they lead to undermining of the autonomy of these people who do not have any other realistic option available (Powell & Skarbek, 2006). Another thought on this is can be considered the view that “The Golden Rule” of treating people the way you will like to be treated yourself. In case you want yourself to be exploited, then you consider that it would be ethically incorrect for you to exploit others in that way. As the people working in sweatshops do not have anything, and their lives are dependent on working there, one cannot consider it their free choice. They are forced to work in the sweatshops due to their circumstances, and firms exploit them by taking advantage of this situation and pay them very less. But what is also a reality is that the workers are also taking advantage of the employees so as to gain enough for their survival (Business Ethics, 2015).

Another argument against it is that the workers claim that verbal, physical as well as sexual abuse is made by the supervisors in sweatshops. So, while the workers are not “forced” to work in these places, they make a choice (to survive) to work under people who are responsible for abusing them daily. Workers also suffer from psychological abuse as they are forced to work under the armed supervision and are also physically assaulted in case their productivity is not up to the required standards. There is no legal protection for them. They are also being forced to work overtime, if they choose not to work overtime (in the absence of any extra pay given to them) they are fired. This happens even though overtime is not a part of their contract. Several workers report rape, but again survival requires them to retain their jobs thus causing more psychological, emotional as well as physical damage (Business Ethics, 2015).

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