For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Meaningful Work and Freedom: Self-Realization, Autonomy, and Non-domination in Work"

by Breen, Keith (2019)


One value invoked in arguments for taking meaningful work seriously as an ethical aspiration, and for rearranging our working practices to accommodate this aspiration, is that of individual freedom. This appeal typically takes three forms. The first, drawing from an Aristotelian ideal of human flourishing, appeals to freedom conceived as self-realization. The second centers on freedom understood in the sense of personal autonomy or self-determination. The third appeals to freedom conceived as non-domination, which is deemed a precondition for enjoying self-realization and self-determination in work. These freedom-based claims for institutionalizing and maintaining meaningful work are compelling both in normative and empirical terms. Moreover, they are in no way undermined by counterclaims to the effect that meaningful work is not an appropriate public policy concern or that the ideals of self-realization and autonomy can be harnessed to legitimize exploitative work arrangements.


Meaningful Work, Meaning, Freedom, Self-Realisation, Non-Domination, Republicanism. Autonomy



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