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Greene, Amanda. Making a Living: The Human Right to Livelihood
2019, In Jahel Queralt and Bas van der Vossen (eds.), Economic Liberties and Human Rights. Routledge.
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Added by: Deryn Mair Thomas
Abstract: 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: 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.

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Veltman, Andrea. Meaningful Work
2016, Oxford University Press
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Added by: Deryn Mair Thomas
Publisher’s Note: This book examines the importance of work in human well-being, addressing several related philosophical questions about work and arguing on the whole that meaningful work is central in human flourishing. Work impacts flourishing not only in developing and exercising human capabilities but also in instilling and reflecting virtues such as honor, pride, dignity, self-discipline, and self-respect. Work also attaches to a sense of purposefulness and personal identity, and meaningful work can promote both personal autonomy and a sense of personal satisfaction that issues from making oneself useful. Further still, work bears a formative influence on character and intelligence and provides a primary avenue for exercising complex skills and garnering esteem and recognition from others. The author defends a pluralistic account of meaningful work, identifying four primary dimension of meaningful work: (1) developing or exercising the worker’s capabilities, especially insofar as this expression meets with recognition and esteem; (2) supporting virtues; (3) providing a purpose, and especially producing something of enduring value; and (4) integrating elements of a worker’s life. In light of the impact that work has on flourishing, the author argues that well-ordered societies provide opportunities for meaningful work and that the philosophical view of value pluralism, which casts work as having no special significance in an individual’s life, is false. The book also addresses oppressive work that undermines human flourishing, examining potential solutions to minimize the impact of bad work on those who perform it.

Comment: Veltman's text can be used first, to introduce students to the concept of meaningful work and philosophical analysis of its core characteristics; and second, to facilitate discussion on the importance of meaningful work in society, such as discussion about what types of activities counts as meaningful work, whether all people should have access to it, or what role the state plays in providing it, etc.

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