For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Real Freedom for All

by Van Parijs, Philippe (1995)

Key Passage

One old objection to distribution in proportion to work is that it conflicts with efficiency even in the weak sense of Pareto-optimality, by providing excessive incentives to work. …Far more serious are the tricky conceptual difficulties unavoidably raised by any approach that gives a key role to the notions of work and leisure. What shall we count as work? (Cleaning one's clients' shoes, cleaning one's children's shoes, cleaning one's own shoes, cleaning one's doll's shoes?) How should hours of work be made comparable? (Should one hour of effort-intensive work be equivalent to one hour of relaxed work, one hour of dangerous work to one hour of safe work, one hour of useless work to one hour of useful work, one hour of pathetically inefficient work to one hour of highly productive work, and, if not, what conversion coefficients should be used?) And if, besides actual work, involuntary leisure is also recognized as giving rise to some legitimate claim, what is the appropriate metric? (Could, for example, an unfulfilled strong or permanent desire to work a little be deemed equivalent to unsatisfied mild or intermittent willingness to work a lot?)  (p.98)


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Van Parijs Citations, Concepts of Work



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