In this chapter I argue that we have a human right to livelihood. Although some economic rights have been defended under a human rights framework, such as freedom of occupation and the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to livelihood requires a separate defense. We have a livelihood when we are able to exercise some control over how we generate income and accumulate wealth. I argue that this control is good in itself, and that it leads to two further goods, social contribution esteem and a sense of self-provision. Beyond its being a right per se, having a livelihood also fulfills Joseph Raz’s conditions for being a constitutional right, insofar as it is a right that can be fairly and effectively protected through legal mechanisms, and for being a human right, insofar as it a right that can be suitably enforced through a system of international law.
Comment (from this Blueprint): Greene's perspective, although not the same as Penner's, does share some important features, and as a result, she presents an argument for a right to livelihood which can help push students into another set of questions related to this weeks topic. These ask whether having agency over one's material resources and the manner of their acquisition is so important as to be essential, and consequently, whether that can be considered a right. One could also use this text to challenge the dominant rights narrative - perhaps a having a livelihood is essential, but not the sort of good that can be protected by rights. In that case, one could use the text to explore what other ways this important human capability might be protected, and by whom.