Hey, been a while since I posted here.
It's the consensus amongst effective altruists that purchasing from sweatshops is one of the best ways to help the global poor and alleviate their poverty (as is thoroughly discussed in MacAskill's book Doing Good Better). That of course isn't to say there aren't any issues with them, such as environmental concerns, but as far as overall consequences are concerned, they are ultimately a net positive by raising living standards, and improving areas such as gender equality and access to education.
I'm sure this question has been asked before here (though I haven't been able to find a thread about it here), and it might just be my experience, but does anyone have a reason as to why the idea that sweatshops are a net good is met with such hostility?
While in my experience many effective altruism ideas I have tried to tell others have all been met with some level of resistance (only giving to effective charities, reducing consumption of animal products, even voting), I've had plenty of luck convincing people of these concepts, likely because they aren't egregious on the surface, and seem like things everyone should get on board with, since there is some intuitive understanding of these things being good. However, the idea that has been met with the most amount of hostility I've noticed is the idea that sweatshops are net positive. Even if I were to provide them with sufficient evidence to make the case, it still isn't viewed very positively.
My speculation is that, even if you were to provide plenty of evidence and reasoning, and even anecdotes to boot, people will still be resistant to this idea because it still feels wrong. It feels wrong to be giving money to an industry that has such poor conditions and (at least by first-world country standards) terrible pay. And yet, given all the evidence, and the fact that the workers are in the sweatshops rather than other jobs that are available to them, this is completely irrational. It may also be due to the fact that we've been led to believe that they're harmful since we were young (I recall in seventh grade a class time where our teacher told us how sweatshops were harmful and that we should be buying domestic products).
Is my speculation accurate? Or is there something else at play? It would be helpful to know for sure, since that would certainly make it easier to understand their position better, so as to be able to convince them of the benefits of sweatshops.
Thanks for any and all answers.
I think I understand what you're saying, so I think the best response to that deontological thinking is to explain how use does not equate to abuse. Similar to how many animal rights advocates make the mistake of thinking that using animals for something is inherently bad, that way of thinking completely ignores the consequences of the actions. The workers are benefitting as well.
This article snippet explains it well:
Those papers do seem interesting to look into, I'll read 'em when I get the chance.