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Moving Beyond the Individualist Paradigm? Risse and Wollner on Non-agential Exploitation

  • Katla Heðinsdóttir EMAIL logo


Most philosophical examinations of the concept of exploitation center on analyzing two-party interactions between individuals. Mathias Risse and Gabriel Wollner introduce an account of exploitation that seeks to transcend this ‘individualist paradigm’ in three ways: Through exploitation of and by agential groups (non-individual exploitation), of or by non-agential groups (non-agential exploitation) and by social structures (structural exploitation). In this paper, I argue that while the concepts of non-individual and structural exploitation do offer each their way of transcending or revising the individualist paradigm, the most ambitious and original attempt to break with the paradigm is offered by the concept of non-agential exploitation. I then discuss this concept, but ultimately conclude that it suffers from too many shortcomings in its current form to offer a plausible departure from the individualist approach.

Corresponding author: Katla Heðinsdóttir, Section for Philosophy, University of Copenhagen, Karen Blixens plads 8 2300, Copenhagen, Denmark, E-mail:

Funding source: The Novo Nordisk Foundation

Award Identifier / Grant number: NNF17SA0031368


I thank Erik Malmqvist for helpful comments and discussions, as well as for several of the points made in this paper.

  1. Research funding: The study was supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF17SA0031368).


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Published Online: 2021-10-18
Published in Print: 2022-04-26

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