Standard Article


  1. Nancy Holmstrom

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee145

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Holmstrom, N. 2013. Exploitation. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Only people exploit. What they exploit and under what conditions determine whether or not it is morally wrong. The verb “exploit” and the noun “exploitation” have broader meanings in English than in some other languages. Thus in English (or French) we can speak of someone exploiting an opportunity or natural resources, which usually conveys no negative moral connotation, but we can also speak of exploiting people (or their labor or bodies), and then it does. In German, however, different words would be used for these kinds of cases; the term for “utilize” would be used for the former. The focus here will be on the interpersonal use of the term because of its (almost) invariable moral import.


  • globalization;
  • Marxism;
  • normative ethics;
  • capitalism;
  • feminism;
  • freedom;
  • liberalism;
  • power;
  • racism;
  • socialism