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Consuming Choices: Ethics in a Global Consumer Age (Philosophy and the Global Context) [Kindle Edition]

David T. Schwartz
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Book Description

Being a consumer is now integral to the human experience, something none of us can avoid. At the same time, many of the products that we buy come to us with histories steeped in highly unethical practices, such as worker exploitation, animal suffering, and environmental damage. Consuming Choices considers the ethical dimensions of consumer life by exploring several basic questions: Exactly what sorts of unethical practices are implicated in today's consumer products? Does moral culpability for these practices fall solely on the companies that perform them, or does it also fall upon consumers who purchase the products made with such practices? And most importantly, do consumers ever have moral obligations to avoid particular products? To answer, David T. Schwartz provides the most detailed philosophical exploration to date on consumer ethics. He utilizes historical and fictional examples to illustrate the types of wrongdoing currently implicated by consumer products in this age of globalization, offers a clear description of the relevant moral theories and important ethical concepts, and provides concrete suggestions on how to be a more ethical consumer.

Editorial Reviews


"I know of no other work that has examined the topic of consumer choice in such detail." ----James Sterba, University of Notre Dame

"The signature ethical problem of the global consumer society is our responsibility for the unethical practices that lie behind the products we buy. David T. Schwartz probes this problem with well-chosen examples and clear ethical arguments Consuming Choices is a book for teachers to discuss with their students and from which activists and consumers will also learn."--- Peter Singer, Decamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University

"What are the moral obligations attaching to consumers? Since everyone is a consumer, Schwartz (Randolph College) claims, this is a question of universal significance. The author clearly traces the difficulties of applying consequentialist moral theory to actions where a single consumer seems ultimately invisible to market and production systems or easily hides behind the screen of anonymity--'If I didn't buy it (or do it) someone else would.' Although most of the book treats issues related to consequentialist moral theory, Schwartz's main argument is for moral complicity by all who engage in consumer activity. This draws on deontological ground, and the author adopts Christopher Kutz's notion that 'participants in a collective harm are accountable for the victim's suffering not because of the individual differences they make, but because their intentional participation in a collective endeavor directly links them to the consequences of that endeavor.' Schwartz's use of a broad set of examples, including the Dresden fire bombing, coco production using child slaves, and the dramatic increase in CEO pay, makes this book powerful and current. Summing Up: Highly recommended."---Choice

About the Author

David T. Schwartz is professor of philosophy at Randolph College.

Product Details

  • File Size: 308 KB
  • Print Length: 149 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0742548147
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (May 16, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003TFE1TO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,764 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Producers produce, and consumers consume. It's a weird dance as supply and demand tango to bring products to the marketplace.

But sometimes, unwanted baggage comes with the products. That T-shirt with the well-known logo and the cute slogan? Does it make a difference if it was stitched together in China or Haiti by young women who work 60+ hours a week under conditions that would be illegal in the US? Does it make a difference if your hamburger was made from the parts of hundreds of cows, a combination of animals fattened on an artificial corn-based diet in a feedlot along with other cows worn out from producing milk day after day and now being discarded? Does it make a difference if a critical component of your cell phone, tantalum, produced from coltan ore, came from war-torn countries and helps support soldiers terrorizing the local populace?

Philosopher David Schwartz, in his book "Consuming Choices: Ethics In A Global Consumer Age," argues that it does, or could. His general aim is " shed light on the question of whether consumers can have a moral obligation to boycott particular products" (p. ii).

The US is a consumer society. Our economy runs on people buying things. When is the consumer responsible for "bad things" related to the production or use of this merchandise? "Might consumers themselves shoulder some culpability for unethical or immoral practices associated with products they purchase?" (p. 3). It's complicated. For some products, consumers know, or should know, that, for example, harm is being inflicted on other human beings. I would characterize "blood diamonds" in this category (Schwartz does not use this example). Buying products from a country that treats its workers poorly would be another.
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