Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-nr4z6 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-23T15:14:33.330Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Fairness to Idleness is There A Right Not to Work?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2008

Andrew Levine
University of Wisconsin-Madison


It is universally agreed that involuntary unemployment is an evil for unemployed individuals, who lose both income and the non-pecuniary benefits of paid employment, and for society, which loses the productive labor that the unemployed are unable to expend. It is nearly as widely agreed that there is at least a prima-facie case for alleviating this evil – for reasons of justice and/or benevolence and/or social order. Finally, there is little doubt that the evils of involuntary unemployment cannot be adequately addressed in contemporary societies without state intervention – whether through monetary or fiscal policies, cash payments or other subsidies to the unemployed, direct provision of employment by the state, or some combination of these measures.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Arneson, Richard. 1990. ‘Is work special? Justice and the distribution of employment and job satisfaction’. American Political Science Review, 88:1127–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baumol, William J. 1965. Welfare Economics and the Theory of the State. 2nd edn. Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
Berlin, Isaiah 1969. Four Essays on Liberty. Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
Block, Fred 1990. Post-Industrial Possibilities: A Critique of Economic Discourse. University of California PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goodin, Robert 1988. Reasons for Welfare: The Political Theory of the Welfare State. Princeton University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Jasay, Anthony 1989. Social Contract, Free Ride. Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
Dworkin, Ronald 1978. ‘Liberalism’. In Public and Private Morality, Stuart, Hampshire (ed.). Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
Elster, Jon 1988. ‘Is there (or should there be) a right to work?’ In Democracy and the Welfare State, Amy, Gutman (ed.). Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
Gorz, André 1989. Critique of Economic Reason. VersoGoogle Scholar
Hart, Herbert L.A. 1955. ‘Are there any natural rights?’ Philosophical Review, 64:175–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hobbes, Thomas 1651. LeviathanGoogle Scholar
Hume, David 1739. A Treatise of Human NatureCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lange, Oscar, 1936–7. ‘On the economic theory of socialism’. Review of Economic Studies, 4:5371, 123–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Larmore, Charles 1987. Patterns of Moral Complexity. Cambridge University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levine, Andrew 1993. The General Will. Cambridge University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Locke, John 1690. Second Treatise of GovernmentGoogle Scholar
Mill, John Stuart. 1859. On LibertyGoogle Scholar
Moon, J Donald. 1988. ‘The moral basis of the democratic welfare state’. In Democracy and the Welfare State, Amy, Gutmann (ed.). Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
Musgrave, Richard. 1974. ‘Maximin, uncertainty and the leisure trade-off’. Quarterly journal of Economics, 88:632–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nozick, Robert 1974. Anarchy, State, Utopia Basic BooksGoogle Scholar
Rawls, John 1971. A Theory of justice. Harvard University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rawls, John 1974. ‘Reply to Alexander and Musgrave’. Quarterly journal of Economics, 88:654–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rawls, John 1988. ‘The priority of right and ideas of the good.’ Philosophy and Public Affairs, 17:251276Google Scholar
Rawls, John 1993. Political Liberalism. Columbia University PressGoogle Scholar
Sahlins, Marshal 1972. Stone Age Economics. AldineGoogle Scholar
Schor, Juliet B. 1991. The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure. Basic BooksGoogle Scholar
Van Parijs, Philippe 1991. ‘Why surfers should be fed: the liberal case for an unconditional basic income’. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 20:101–31Google Scholar
Van Parijs, Philippe 1992a. ‘Basic income capitalism’. Ethics, 102:465–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Van Parijs, Philippe 1992b. Arguing for Basic Income. VersoGoogle Scholar
Van Parijs, Philippe 1993. Marxism Recycled. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
Walter, Tony 1989. Basic Income: Freedom from Poverty, Freedom from Work. BoyarsGoogle Scholar
Webb, Steven 1990. Beyond the Welfare State: An Examination of Basic Incomes in a Market Economy. Aberdeen University PressGoogle Scholar