David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Social Theory and Practice 35 (3):441-459 (2009)
John Rawls says that one of the requirements for stability is “[s]ociety as an employer of last resort” (PLP, lix). He explains: “[t]he lack of . . . the opportunity for meaningful work and occupation is destructive . . . of citizens’ self-respect” (PLP, lix). Rawls implies in these claims that the opportunity for meaningful work is a social basis of self-respect. This constitutes a significant shift in his account of self-respect, one that has been overlooked. I begin by clarifying Rawls’s account of self-respect in A Theory of Justice, then consider some post-Theory developments in it. After exploring the nature of Rawls’s commitment to the opportunity for meaningful work, I ask why he comes to think it is a social basis of self-respect. I extract a partial answer from his writings, then speculate about his full reasoning. Finally, I consider whether Rawls is right that the opportunity for meaningful work is a social basis of self-respect. I give some reason to believe that he is.
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Samuel Arnold (2011). The Difference Principle at Work. Journal of Political Philosophy 20 (1):94-118.
Jean-Philippe Deranty & Craig MacMillan (2012). The ILO's Decent Work Initiative: Suggestions for an Extension of the Notion of “Decent Work”. Journal of Social Philosophy 43 (4):386-405.
Richard Penny (2013). Incentives, Inequality and Self-Respect. Res Publica 19 (4):335-351.
Christopher Michaelson, Michael G. Pratt, Adam M. Grant & Craig P. Dunn (2014). Meaningful Work: Connecting Business Ethics and Organization Studies. Journal of Business Ethics 121 (1):77-90.
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