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Issue Date: 25-Feb-2019
Authors: Celentano, Denise
Title: Cooperating As Peers: Labor Justice Between Distributive and Relational Equality
Abstract: Despite its relevance, work is underrepresented in debates about social justice. In this way, political philosophy remains distant from real people s lives, and cannot address objectionable forms of work. The thesis contributes to fill in this gap, addressing the problem of labor justice with particular attention to labor inequalities. First, the thesis shows that the resources provided by most contemporary views of justice are only partly equipped to address problems of labor justice. Normative models belonging to various traditions are scrutinized: distributive justice, critical theory, relational egalitarianism, contemporary normative debates about work. The thesis considers each of these models both as a critical interlocutor and as a potential resource in the conceptualization of labor justice. Three paradigmatic cases of labor inequality are thus considered to assess these models through a contributive justice test : dirty work , the gendered division of labor, and technological heteromation. The analysis shows that without some conception of equality, we have no tools to address objectionable forms of division of labor. And in order to avoid a view of meaningful work for the few , concerns for autonomy and freedom are to be complemented with concerns for equality. Second, the thesis suggests an alternative perspective based on the norm of contributive parity . According to this ideal, unjust forms of work are to be changed when they prevent people from contributing to social cooperation as peers, not because they do not meet some inherent meaning of work or fail to fulfill some predefined idea of human nature (pluralism). This way, this conception of labor justice avoids the paternalistic consequences and moral solipsism of some theories of meaningful work, while still defending the need for justice at work. Overall, this norm contributes to shift the focus of the debate from problems of the inherent meaning of work and self-realization, to the problem of fair cooperation. Since requirements of labor justice cannot be met by free occupational choice or income redistribution alone, but relate also to social relationships, decision-making processes, and the nature of tasks and occupations, the thesis advocates a multidimensional conception of labor justice. Contributive parity requires that in order for all to contribute to social cooperation as peers, at least four dimensions of labor justice should be satisfied: economic- distributive (equal freedom from material need for real free occupational choice, and fair access to the product of one s labor as well as to social wealth), social-relational (being treated as equals both in labor interactions and in labor structures), political-democratic (taking part in decisions that concern one s work), and contributive (the quality and quantity of one s labor). Contributive parity is best realized when these dimensions of labor justice are realized jointly: it is not sufficient that wage is fair, one should consider also workers status, voice and contributive justice (multidimensionality). This way, concerns for distributive justice are not merely dismissed, but rather integrated into a more comprehensive framework. The concept of contributive parity is a reinterpretation in the context of labor justice of the norm of participatory parity proposed by Nancy Fraser (2003). The thesis autonomously amends and develops some of her intuitions into the direction of a multidimensional, egalitarian, deontological, and pluralist view of labor justice, while incorporating insights from relational egalitarianism and distributive justice into a more comprehensive framework. Overall, far from offering a fully-fledged theory of labor justice, the ideal of contributive parity is intended to provide a critical-normative standard that helps to assess existing forms of division of labor and competing strategies of labor justice, and therefore to envisage alternative, fair forms of work.
Appears in Collections:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali

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