Topic The history of slavery and modern slavery essay

Topic:The history of slavery and modern slavery

Thehistory of slavery and modern slavery

Slaverycan widely be considered as involving selling, buying and ownershipof human beings so that they can be used for unpaid and forced labor.Slavery is among the aspects that have been viewed by everyone asbeing unethical (Kwas, 2009: 38). As a matter of fact, there isgeneral consensus among people that slavery is unethical and wrong.It is also important to note that even those involved in slavery donot typically defend it rather, they try to defend their positionand make excuses so that they can circumvent the law, suggesting thatthey are aware of their wrongdoing.

Ithas often been thought that slavery was beneficial to the slaveowners since it seemed to offer them cheap labor. In some instances,this was the case however, it was also a source of issues forbusinessmen who were uncanny. To begin with, capital was neededupfront in case one wanted to purchase slaves, costs of recruitmentwere exorbitant in the event that slaves died or ran away and neededto be replaced, costs of supervising and guarding the slaves werehigh, and the slaves were usually unproductive as a consequence ofthe poor environment they worked in.

Therefore,the decision to use slaves was not always obvious. Its specific valuewas clear when it was difficult to get labor, during war, or when thetraders offered them at sensible prices(Bales,2007 4). When the prices of the slaves were lower, the chances thatthey would be mistreated were higher since the owners were able toeasily and cheaply replace them. In some nations, the ending ofslavery was very damaging to specific industries and demonstratedthat slavery had assisted in keeping prices artificially low andprovided a clear warning that pressure on international prices canhave a negative effect on the rights of human beings.

Thoseadvocating against slavery have argued that the action of individualsmaking others slaves constitutes an inherent evil and has led tonumerous atrocious practices. Even though this may appear obvious inthe modern world, initially, slavery was not considered as beinggenerally bad. Nevertheless, the deep-rooted system resulted in theslaves being treated in a cruel and inhuman manner. Slaves wereusually kidnapped from their countries of origin and majority of themlost their lives in the course of the voyages. While in bondage, theoverseers along with owners of the slaves did whatever they pleasedwith the slaves including sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

Capturingand taking slaves is a demonstration of some form of inherentselfishness in the slave owners and traders (Ratner, Kaufman, &ampTeeter, 2009: 90). According to Thomas Hobbes, a seventeenth centuryEnglish philosopher, majority of the actions of human beings resultfrom the selfish desires of individuals(Finn, 2007). Even in theinstances where actions may appear to be selfless, like taking humanbeings from a poor environment into a better environment, there werestill selfish reasons like getting cheap labor and exercising powerover those who do not have it. This is referred to as psychologicalegoism, which maintains that in the end, interests that areself-oriented are a source of motivation for every action a humanbeing takes. Psychological hedonism is also closely associated withpsychological egoism and is of the view that pleasure is theparticular motivation for all actions associated with human beings.With this in mind, it seems that the slave-owners sought to satisfytheir own pleasures when they purchased or acquired slaves.Nevertheless, it may also be considered that some people took slavessince human beings have an inborn psychological capability to showbenevolence to other individuals. This aspect is referred to aspsychological altruism and argues that some actions of humans aredriven by inherent benevolence.

Akey ethical issues that resulted in the call for abolishment ofslavery was the perception that slaves could not be categorized asproperty like livestock. For a long time, numerous non-whiteindividuals were perceived as inhuman and meant to be enslaved, notto be to be afforded equal treatment. Those against slavery havestrongly argued slaves are individual human beings with the capacityto love, feel pain, think and desire other things apart from bondedlabor. The ideal of equal treatment of all humans which is now allover the globe was not common initially. This simple notion statesthat every person, irrespective of color of their skin, background,class or religion, is supposed to be treated equally. When those whowere not slaves began perceiving the slaves as fellow humans, changescould be seen and former slaves were able to express themselves morethrough writing and speech which proved that there was no differencebetween the slaves and the ruling whites.

Whileslavery continued, the duty-based theory developed by Kant, whichstresses a single principle of duty, was somehow nonexistent.According to Kant, people have moral duties to themselves and othersincluding development of talents and keeping promises. Slave tradersand owners rarely exercised their moral duties to support this theoryas they mainly treated slaves as non humans and never bothered abouttheir welfare unless they needed them to be more productive. Kant’sargument is a self-evident principle of reason which he considers ascategorical imperative that essentially differs from hypotheticalimperatives associated with the personal desires that people have. Inpurported democracies such as the US, human beings are supposed to betreated equally however, this rarely included slaves. Those againstslavery questioned the moral values of chaining human beings so thatthey can work without pay when everyone rightfully deserves libertyand freedom.

Contemporaryslave holders have also offered some insight that increases debateabout the history of slavery. Some slaveholders view themselves asgood workers who behave morally in the society which demonstrates thelingering myths associated with utilitarianism and other theories.Some of the justifications of abuse by the slaveholders, that theyare only violent physically when provoked and that the captives andslaves consent to sexual acts shows apologists theories that slaveryis permissible.

Possiblythe most critical lesson that can be taken from experiences ofslavery in history and should be considered when looking at modernday slavery is the fact that the institution affects those who havebeen taken as slaves as well as the rest of the society. It is anissue that is deep-seated and long-term which has resulted ingenerations of disparity and discrimination. Slavery creates atradition of privilege that offers a validation for the benefit ofthe rich while being harmful to the poor. Slavery continues to existin the modern times since the world has been socialized in a mannerthat it expects some communities to reside on the margins of thesociety. Regrettably, the margins persistently develop into shackleswhich tie people to previous horrors while connecting generations ofthe future to inequality and discrimination.


Bales,K. (2007).&nbspEndingSlavery: How We Free Today`s Slaves.University of California Press.(`s%20Slaves&ampf=false)

Finn,S. (2007).&nbspHobbes:A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the perplexed).Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.(,+human+action+come+from+selfish+desires&amphl=en&ampsa=X&ampredir_esc=y#v=onepage&ampq=hobbes%2C%20human%20action%20come%20from%20selfish%20desires&ampf=false)

Kwas,M. (2009).&nbspDiggingfor history at Old Washington.Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press.(

Ratner,L., Kaufman, P., &amp Teeter, D. (2009).&nbspParadoxesof prosperity.Urbana: University of Illinois Press.(