After going through the documentary ‘Blood, Sweat and T-shirts’ I consider ‘sweatshops’ as a term that is not favourable because as per my understanding it is based on the miserable working conditions that are way too dangerous. It can be seen clearly from the documentary that workers work very long hours in dangerous conditions and in return they are given a very low pay which is equivalent to approximately £3. Many big corporations in countries such as United States of America and United Kingdom are considered as great examples as they use sweatshops labour in countries such as Bangladesh, India, China, Vietnam etc. so that the corporations can make their products at a lower price. In order to support themselves and their families financially the factory workers are forced to work longer duration of hours in dangerous working conditions. Kant’s ethical theory is based on three aspects which are means vs ends, universal acceptability and goodwill. In mnemonic terms it can be classified as ‘MUG’. Kant described ‘M’ Means vs ends as rational creatures should always treat other rational creatures as ends in themselves and never as only means to an ends. (Shaw, Barry, Issa, Catley ; Muntean, 2016, p. 65). In other words it can be said that means vs ends focuses on in order to achieve our own goals and objectives we should never use others. It can be seen from the documentary that the corporation’s major objective is profit maximisation and they are willing to go to any extent to achieve it even if it comes at the expense of the factory workers. The corporation’s actions clearly justify that they are using the workers only as means because they are using them unfairly, forcing them to work longer hours in dangerous conditions instead of as an end which requires looking after their good such as a necessity of providing a safer working environment, and also giving them appropriate wages. In all circumstances we should treat others the same way we wish to be treated which represents mankind among ourselves and in others. In order to summarise ‘means vs ends’ human beings should not be treated just as mere commodities to accomplish any corporation’s goals or objectives with no thoughts of their own goals and interests. Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative which is defined as a principled command that is necessary universally requires us to act in a manner where we can justify our actions into a universal law. (Shaw, Barry, Issa, Catley ; Muntean, 2016, p. 63). If there is something that needs to be considered a universal law it is always better to ask if all rational beings would accept or not to live as per that law. Similarly in the use of sweatshops everyone has to be considered in making a universal law so even if a stakeholder or a sweatshop in-charge argue that their only interest is the low price of their products and nothing else, but what if the roles would have been different, what would have happened if they (stakeholders or managers/ in-charge) were the ones working in those miserable dangerous conditions they would definitely feel differently. They would definitely not accept that living in accordance to that universal law. As per Kant nothing should be taken away from the workers working in the factories but the laws or the system should be made more democratic and kinder. In order to summarise the universal law it is very critical that when you are making your rules to live by you must be critically certain that these are the rules you want the rest of the world to live by. An example can be seen where ‘working in those dangerous conditions is not right, then under no circumstances is it all right to work in those conditions’. The third and the last factor in this mnemonic term ‘MUG’ is goodwill ‘G’. As per Kant if you think that you are doing something just because it is considered good, it does not make the act good. There should be more that should be done to it. The only term that is considered very critical as per Kant in doing something good is the attitude, is the sense of duty behind doing something good. Only then our actions will have moral worth. If we don’t do it from the sense of duty in order to be fair and honest then our actions will lack moral worth. In another words it can be said that this concept of goodwill is about having a desire to do the right thing. If one is doing something good just for the sake of some reward that is involved in it then it will not be considered a form of ‘goodwill’ as per Kant. There is no other aspect in this factor of ‘goodwill’ other than doing it because it is your duty. Similarly in the use of sweatshops they are not performing an act of goodwill because there is no sense of duty involved. They are not acting from the sense of duty that is to be fair and honest. They are not acknowledging the humankind of workers in the factories who are being used and exploited.
- Samuel Yao Ms