The Future of the Philosophy of Work

Journal of Applied Philosophy 41 (2):181-201 (2024)
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Abstract

Work has always been a significant source of ethical questions, philosophical reflection, and political struggle. Although the future of work in a sense is always at stake, the issue is particularly relevant right now, in light of the advent of advanced AI systems and the collective experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has reinvigorated philosophical discussion and interest in the study of the future of work. The purpose of this survey article is to provide an overview of the emerging philosophical field that engages with the future of work, with a special focus on equality and justice, and to outline a research agenda that can help the field to develop further. Section 2 provides some historical context for the current surge in interest in the topic. Then, we discuss what work is and whether there is a philosophy of work (Section 3). The four main sub-debates we then turn to concern the value of work (Section 4), distributive justice and work (Section 5), productive justice (Section 6), and institutional reforms prompted by changes in how work is organized (Section 7). The final section discusses the importance of the distinction between ideal and non-ideal theory in philosophical investigations into the future of work.

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