Social Theory and Practice 35 (3):441-459 (2009)

Jeffrey Moriarty
Bentley University
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.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Social and Political Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0037-802X
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract200935325
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,645
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Difference Principle at Work.Samuel Arnold - 2012 - Journal of Political Philosophy 20 (1):94-118.
There Is No Rawlsian Theory of Corporate Governance.Abraham Singer - 2015 - Business Ethics Quarterly 25 (1):65-92.
A Normative Meaning of Meaningful Work.Christopher Michaelson - 2021 - Journal of Business Ethics 170 (3):413-428.

View all 28 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Place of Self‐Respect in a Theory of Justice.Gerald Doppelt - 2009 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (2):127 – 154.
What is to Be Distributed?Rodney G. Peffer - 1998 - The Paideia Project.
From Rawlsian Autonomy to Sufficient Opportunity in Education.Liam Shields - 2015 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 14 (1):1470594-13505413.
Rawls on the Practicability of Utilitarianism.Ivar Labukt - 2009 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 8 (2):201-221.
Rawls and Natural Aristocracy.Matthew Clayton - 2001 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 1 (3):239-259.
Overlapping Consensus: Objectivizing a Subjective Standpoint.Remi Odedoyin - 2000 - Journal of Philosophical Research 25:323-343.
Three Types of Self-Respect.David Middleton - 2006 - Res Publica 12 (1):59-76.
Civic Respect, Political Liberalism, and Non-Liberal Societies.Blain Neufeld - 2005 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 4 (3):275-299.
Against Rawlsian Equality of Opportunity.Richard J. Arneson - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 93 (1):77-112.


Added to PP index

Total views
162 ( #67,880 of 2,462,294 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #88,454 of 2,462,294 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes