instances of type 2 exploitation. Take, for instance, two children who merrily
exchange stamps. One has a booklet detailing current trading prices, the other
does not. Deliberately, the booklet owner offers a low-value, common stamp in
exchange for a rare one. The ignorant child accepts. Exploitation has occurred.
What makes this occurrence of exploitation easy to judge is (a) the existence of a
booklet detailing the value of the exchanged goods, (b) the agreement that stamps
are commodities and (c) the agreement that fairness requires equality of exchange
value in this case. In scientific research, type 2 exploitation is more difficult to
judge, as we will see below.
In type 3 exploitation, exploiters do not benefit others authentically. In this
form of exploitation an exchange takes place as with type 2. But even though
exploiters might give others what they want, the exchange does not genuinely ben-
efit them. For instance, the purchase of heroin might be what buyers want, but they
would nevertheless be harmed or degraded by the exchange when judged from a
neutral standpoint. The exchange can be fair in terms of type 2 exploitation (e.g.
the heroin is sold at market price), but it is nevertheless harmful to the buyer.
The three types of exploitation have one thing in common, namely the failure to
benefit others as they deserve. Using a formulation by Robert Mayer ( 2007 , p. 142),
we can propose the following definition:
'Wrongful exploitation' is a failure to benefit others as some norm of fair-
One important feature of this definition is that it is substantial as opposed to
procedural. It appeals to fairness, or at least 'some norm of fairness'. Some critics
claim that it is impossible to find a norm of fairness on which everyone will
agree. 10 They in turn propose a procedural definition of fairness, according to
which an exchange is not exploitative if, for example, the agents negotiate the
exchange free of coercion and under perfect market conditions. There are two sig-
nificant problems with such procedural definitions, though. First, it is not necessar-
ily easier to develop and agree on a proper procedure than it is to develop and
agree on a norm of fairness. In particular, perfect market conditions almost never
hold in practice. Second, on the procedural view, no matter how unfair an
exchange may appear to us, it will be impossible, provided that the proper proce-
dure was followed, for us to criticize the exchange on the grounds of unfairness.
This seems highly unsatisfactory. The proponent of a procedural definition of
unfairness might reply that if the proper procedure is followed, the resulting
exchange will not only be fair on procedural terms but will also agree with our
10 See Richard Ashcroft's ( 2008 , pp. 3-6) discussion of what he calls the 'undecidability