For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

References for Theme: On Aristotle

  • Backman, Jussi
  • Mansfield; Harvey, C
  • Murphy, James Bernard
    • The Moral Economy of Labor: Aristotelian Themes in Economic Theory (1993)
    • "A Natural Law of Human Labor" (1994)
      (p.72) Since labor fills the lives of most adults (and, in many societies, most children) it would seem natural to inquire whether labor is a fundamental opportunity for human flourishing. For Aristotle and the Aristotelian tradition, there are major obstacles to any consideration of labor as a basic good. Consider Aristotle's official distinction between production (poiesis) and action (praxis): "For while making (poiesis) has an end other than itself, action (praxis) cannot; for good action is its own end." 3 Here productive labor is defined as a means to something else, either the pay or the product; it is not a...
    • "A Natural Law of Human Labor" (1994)
      (p.73) In his commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics (1050a30), Thomas Aquinas argues that immanent activities are a perfection of an agent, while transitive activities are a perfection of an external entity. From this metaphysical premise, Aquinas also draws the normative conclusion that productive labor, being the perfection of an external thing, is not an intrinsic good; moral action, by contrast, is an intrinsic good because it is the perfection of the agent. Whereas production perfects only the product, action perfects only the agent. Productive labor, says Aquinas, has a purely instrumental function and, therefore, is not an opportunity for human flourishing.
    • "A Natural Law of Human Labor" (1994)
      (p.74) There is a curious and disturbing similarity between the view of human labor found in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition and that found in the contemporary orthodoxy of neoclassical economics. Modern economic theory defines labor as a disagreeable drudgery ("a disutility") undertaken solely to gain pleasure from the paycheck. In both orthodoxies, work is a mere instrument whose value lies in what it produces, either the product or the pay.
    • "A Natural Law of Human Labor" (1994)
  • Wolff, Ernst
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