In What Sense Is Unemployment a Proper Object of Moral Concern?
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Few non-Marxists argue that there is or at least should be something like a right to be employed—that is, an independent individual right to some sort of meaningful job that is enforceable against either a particular private employer or the state, and I do not intend to spend any time discussing the Marxist posi- tion here, for two reasons. First, because such discussions are already plentiful elsewhere.1 And second, because I am going to start with the assumption that we have already decided, for whatever reason, that we will not seek to replace capi- talism with socialism—that is, we have already decided to opt for mostly private ownership of the means of production and a free-market economy moderated by the protections of political liberalism instead of a system of public ownership of the means of production and a centrally planned economy, with or without the protections of political liberalism, regardless of the effect on unemployment that this decision may or may not have. So while I believe that Marxism (and for that matter all other forms of what we commonly call socialism) does not provide an attractive answer to the problem of unemployment, all things considered, I shall not argue for that position here, although I shall use the work of some Marxist critics of capitalism as well as the work of a great many capitalist economists to help explore what capitalism and especially liberal capitalism really entails. Nevertheless, nothing I am going to say in this work requires anyone to abandon the view that some form of socialism offers an attractive solution to the problem of unemployment if that is the view they currently maintain.
KeywordsDistributive Justice Moral Obligation Difference Principle Full Employment Moral Concern
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