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According to Rawls' theory of justice fairness is a quality of social institutions that would ensure a morally just and equitable society. The philosophy is based on two guiding concepts, the first of which emphasizes that everyone should have an equal right to essential liberties like freedom of speech. The second tenet is that everyone should benefit from economic and social positions in society and that they should be equally and fairly available to everyone (Rawls, 2009). Everyone should have equal opportunity, including the less fortunate members of the community, according to Rawls. The principle promotes equality among people regarding opportunities and liberties and emphasizes the moral obligation to accept the existence of all human beings.
Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, abbreviated as LVMH, is a luxury goods company based in France that uses crocodile skin to manufacture jackets and handbags. The company obtains crocodile skins from farms in Vietnam, Singapore, and Texas. This lucrative business is benefiting World's leading fashion brands such as LVMH, while the community and animals themselves are suffering (Karaosman et al. 2016, p.25). The practice is unjust to the society because according to the justice theory; it does not promote equal opportunities for all people. Today, the alleviation of poverty and biodiversity conservation are internationally accepted goals that promote equitable sharing of biological resources, such as wildlife, through conservation of biological diversity and sustainable utilization of natural resources. Harvesting of crocodiles for luxury goods sold by LVMH is unsustainable resource use that only benefits the wealthy people who own these fashion companies.
Moreover, with the high demand for crocodile skin products, overharvesting of these wild animals is likely and can lead to their extinction. Crocodiles are community-based natural resources that need to benefit all people including the future generation. Through, tourism, crocodiles also bring in foreign income used by governments to develop public facilities that are enjoyed by all. Therefore, harvesting of this wildlife to supply raw materials to LVMH do not encourage species conservation and can affect the tourism industry in countries, especially those that supply the crocodile skins unsustainably (Kapferer and Michaut 2015, p.10). Fashion companies should consider biodiversity and its benefits to the community when they develop businesses that are likely to affect wildlife sustainability.
Additionally, methods used by harvesters to kills crocodiles are abusive, unjust and cruel. According to People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the reptiles undergo through suffering when they are violently killed to supply crocodile skins to LVMH (PETA 2016). They are first electroshocked, and before they are dead, their necks are cut open, and rods rammed down the spine. This process leaves the animal vigorously shaking and bleeding. According to experts, this method is inhumane because crocodilians remain conscious and sensitive for over an hour after they are killed (PETA 2016). Therefore, the process is painful and cruel since animals are skinned when they are still alive. The skins are then processed at Hermes International before they are sold to fashion companies for luxury products.
According to the justice theory, the skinning of a crocodile by LVMH to produce luxury products such as handbags, belts, and jackets is unethical. The practice diminishes the population of crocodiles, a natural and community-based resource that is meant to be enjoyed equality by all people. In fact, the finished products only benefit people who can afford them. Also, high demand for the luxury products leads to the killing of thousands of crocodiles, a practice that can endanger or wipe out this wildlife. Moreover, the crocodile harvesters are using cruel and unethical acts to kill this reptile. They make these animals undergo unimaginable suffering and keep them in dark and dirty pits at their leather farms before slaughtering them. Instead of using captive bolt system or a free projective, which are humane slaughter methods, the workers at crocodile farms cut their necks open when they are still sensitive and conscious (Sorenson 2011, p.140). Therefore, companies need to practice ethical fashion and exploit wildlife sustainably and humanly to promote justice for all.
Kapferer, J.N. and Michaut, A. (2015). Luxury and sustainability: A common future? The
match depends on how consumers define luxury. Luxury Research Journal, 1(1): 3-17.
Karaosman, H., Morales-Alonso, G, and Brun, A. (2016). From a systematic literature review
to a classification framework: Sustainability integration in fashion operations. Sustainability, 9(2): 1-30.
PETA. (2016). Crocodiles cut open, skinned in Vietnam for leather bags. Available at:
[Accessed Feb. 19, 2017]
Rawls, J. (2009). A Theory of justice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard university press.
Sorenson, J. (2011). Ethical fashion and the exploitation of non-human animals. Critical
Studies in Fashion & Beauty, 2(1-2): 139-164.
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