Ending Slavery

Monday Night Philosophy contributes to our special August series with a close look at the resilience of slavery in the 21st century. Ending slavery was a 19th century obsession that appeared quite successful, as did the attempt to end intemperance. But was slavery, like drunkenness, just pushed underground when it was criminalized? The intense psychological desire for hierarchical status, and the economic desires that reinforce that, explain why slavery is as hard to eliminate as other social ills, as is evidenced by the continuing mass incarceration of African-Americans and the endurance of various forms of female slavery. The big solution to this big problem is an easily understood and almost as easily adopted perspective that effectively undermines the psychological need for hierarchy. There are also legal incentives, and technical half-solutions, which could help minimize the demand for enslaving each other in the meantime.