Guzmán, R. A., & Munger, M. C. (2020). A Theory of Just Market Exchange. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 54(1), 91-118.
The idea that unconscionable bargaining power can be an instrument of coercion can be traced back at least to Locke (2003) and Hume (1888). Hume proposed the following example: “A man, dangerously wounded, who promises a competent sum to a surgeon to cure him, wou’d certainly be bound to performance; tho’ the case be not so much different from that of one, who promises a sum to a robber.” Hume (1888; p. 125). In recent decades, this idea has attracted renewed interest among moral philosophers, most notably Frankfurt (1973; p. 71); Lyons (1975; 425–436); O’Neill (1985, 252–277); McGregor (1988, 23–50); Olsaretti (1998; 2004, 119–154), Snyder (2008, 389–405), Zwolinski (2009), and Munger (2011). More recently, Vrousalis (2013) connects exploitation with domination, seeking to define exploitation as the self-enriching instrumentalization of another’s vulnerability. Finally, the rejection of substantial inequality in bargaining strength is a condition of the exchange situation, not a condition of the wealth positions of the participants in a broader sense. The issues discussed in regard to the diminishing marginal utility of wealth and the arguments for redistribution are summarized in Schmidtz (2000). We are considering only the narrow situation of the exchange itself.
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