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Reading: How Democratic Must Ethical Consumerism Be?


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How Democratic Must Ethical Consumerism Be?


Nikolas Mattheis


This paper reviews recent accounts of ethical consumerism. It supports a ‘broadly democratic’ view according to which consumerism should be sensitive to political equality but not necessarily to formal democratic processes. First, the paper outlines the motivation for democratic constraints on ethical consumerism and sketches Washeed Hussain’s ‘proto-legislative’ account. Then, Hussain’s view is shown to be objectionably conservative due to its bias towards formal democratic processes. Next, the paper discusses two recent alternative proposals – ‘positive change consumerism’ (Hassoun 2019) and a broadly democratic account (Barry and MacDonald 2019) – and argues that the latter is superior. Finally, the implications of endorsing the broadly democratic account are considered. It is being argued that consumption decisions should generally be sensitive to power imbalances.
How to Cite: Mattheis, N., 2019. How Democratic Must Ethical Consumerism Be?. Rerum Causae, 11(1), pp.30–44.
Published on 19 Sep 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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