Occupational Safety and Paternalism: Machan Revisited

Journal of Business Ethics 63 (2):155-173 (2006)
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In 1987, Machan provided a libertarian case against the right to occupational safety. Since before Machan’s essay appeared, many business ethicists and legal scholars have given considerable attention to the overall position Machan endorses: the acceptance of employment at will and the rejection of employee rights. No one yet has given adequate attention, however, to the fact that Machan’s argument against the right to occupational safety actually stands or falls independently of his overall position on employee rights. His argument ultimately rests on two values: the promotion of employee interests and anti-paternalism. Insofar as those who support the right to occupational safety share those values, they must find a strategy for opposing Machan’s argument that preserves those values. In this paper, I demonstrate why Machan’s argument ultimately rests on the promotion of employee interests and anti-paternalism. Then, I develop an objection to Machan’s argument that preserves those values.



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Earl Spurgin
John Carroll University

References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
Paternalism.Gerald Dworkin - 1972 - The Monist 56 (1):64-84.
Nicomachean Ethics.Martin Aristotle & Ostwald - 1911 - New York: Hackett Publishing Company. Edited by C. C. W. Taylor.
Ethical Issues in Business: A Philosophical Approach.Thomas Donaldson & Patricia Hogue Werhane (eds.) - 2002 - Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

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