Content Warning: Rape, Abuse, Exploitation, Slavery
You’re lost in a desert. You’re going to die of thirst. You meet someone. They offer to make a deal with you. They’ll give you water and transport you to safety but only if you have sex with them. This is what me and my other half call rapesaving and it’s a good scenario for exploring various ethical problems from exploitation to the person affective view to practical vs pure ethics.
A few beginnings.
You are crawling towards the horizon. As you crawl, you encounter two people. One ignores you and drives into the distance, knowing you’ll die without help. The other is the rapesaver. The rapesaver is giving you a free choice. You will only choose to have sex if they prefer it to being left alone. Giving someone more options when they are rational and fully informed is obviously moral and a good thing to do. Hence the rapesaver is being more moral in the other party. Hence corporations running sweatshops with terrible conditions in the third world are better than those that do not. Either that or the person effecting view [^1] is wrong. If the person affecting view is wrong, a lot of philosophy starts to fall apart, from the leveling down objection[^2] to aggregation.
You are crawling towards the horizon. The rapesaver comes along. She offers to save you but only if you give her 10’000USD. Saving you has virtually zero cost for her. Is she doing something wrong?
You are crawling towards the horizon. The rapesaver comes along. She offers to save you but only if you give her 10’000USD. She’s on her way to an important business meeting and stopping to save you costs her 10’000USD. You can easily afford the fee. Is she doing something wrong?
You are crawling towards the horizon. The desertSaveTM truck comes along. A worker in overalls steps out and explains that desertSave inc offers life saving services at the low, low price of 10’000USD. You can easily afford the fee. Charging fees incentivises the creation and perpetuation of a robust market in life saving which saves thousands of victims like you per year. Is desertSave inc doing something wrong?
You are crawling towards the horizon. There are a million people crawling along side you. An ocean of suffering. A person drives by, not helping anyone. Their cost to help any one person would be tiny, but they can’t help every person. Are they doing something wrong? (Yes, there are people in philosophy who would say both that they would have to help you if you were the only one but that they have no obligation if there are many people to save.)
You are crawling towards the horizon. There are 9 other people crawling towards the horizon together a few kilometers away. A person is driving along and sees you and the other group. They only have enough time to save one group before the other dies from heatstroke/dehydration/philosophising. They cannot distinguish between you and the others and see each individual as essentially equally valuable. They choose to save you instead of saving 9 people. Have they done something wrong? (Yes, there are people in philosophy who would say no.)
[^1]: The principle that something can only be good/bad if it is good/bad for someone [^2]: The most common argument against egalitarianism. Egalitarianism says that a utility distribution of [10. 10. 5] is worse than a distribution of [5, 5, 5]. This seems wrong as everyone in distribution 1 is either equally or better off than in distribution 2. It doesn’t seem right that we should prefer a world where no one is better off and everyone is worse off.