For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Meaningful work, nonperfectionism, and reciprocity"

by Althorpe, Caleb (n.d.)


Any liberal argument for incorporating meaningful work within a theory of justice inherits a burden of proof to show why it does not fall to the objection that privileging the work process valorizes particular ideas about the good and thereby unfairly privileges some persons over others. Existing liberal defences of meaningful work, which rely on the formative effects of work in contemporary economies, have a limited scope of appeal and do not provide a convincing reply to the objection. The paper offers an alternative reply by arguing that meaningful work, understood as a person-engaging social contribution, is intimately connected through reciprocity to the fundamental political idea of society as a system of cooperation between free and equal participating members. This makes the opportunity to engage in meaningful work a social basis of self-respect.


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Productive Justice, Meaningful Work

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