Occupational Safety and Paternalism: Machan Revisited

Journal of Business Ethics 63 (2):155-173 (2006)

Earl Spurgin
John Carroll University
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.
Keywords consent  employee rights  employment at will  labor market  legal versus moral rights  libertarianism  live options  negative versus positive rights  occupational safety  unemployment rate
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Reprint years 2006
DOI 10.1007/s10551-005-3326-y
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References found in this work BETA

Paternalism.Gerald Dworkin - 1972 - The Monist 56 (1):64-84.
Rights in the Workplace: A Nozickian Argument. [REVIEW]Ian Maitland - 1989 - Journal of Business Ethics 8 (12):951 - 954.
Paternalism, Surrogacy, and Exploitation.Henrik Kjeldgaard Jørgensen - 2000 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 10 (1):39-58.

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