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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Undergraduate Course: Ethics of Work and Labour (PHIL10190)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe average person in industrialized societies will spend the equivalent of eleven years working during her lifetime, but work and labour are often marginalized in mainstream philosophical discourse. This course engages with fundamental philosophical questions concerning the nature and value or work, with a particular eye toward the state of work and labour in contemporary society. By considering both historically influential and present day sources, the course invites students to develop a more informed and reflective stance on their own working lives and the place of work and labour in community life.
Course description Work is a formative human experience but has often received only sporadic attention from philosophers. This course uses historically prominent frameworks (ancient virtue ethics, the Protestant work ethic, Marxism, etc.) to motivate rival views about work¿s nature and value, such as that work is a burden or a curse, a calling or vocation through which one develops and exhibits personal virtues, a purely instrumental means for acquiring income, etc. This investigation will enable students to articulate contrasts between work on the one hand and play or leisure on the other, as well as to consider different normative grounds for evaluating work (good work, virtuous work, meaningful work, etc.). The course also considers the morality of work, pursuing such questions as whether there is a duty to work, whether there is a right to work (for example, by way of a job guarantee) or a right to forego work, the right to strike, the ethics of choosing specific jobs or careers, productive justice and the societal allocation of ¿bad¿ jobs, and the just distribution of power and authority within the workplace. Special attention will be given to how these questions intersect with race and gender. The course concludes by critically projecting alternative futures for work, including the possibility and desirability of a ¿post-work¿ future.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Morality and Value (PHIL08015)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students studying on MA Cognitive Science (Humanities) are permitted to take this course without having met the pre-requisites of Mind, Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality. However, it is advisable that students discuss the suitability of the course with their PT and the course organiser before enrolling.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) First midterm essay (35%) 1,500 words
Second midterm essay (35%) 1,500 words
Final revised essay (25%) 2,500 words
Reflective course experience essay (5%) 1,000 words
Feedback Guidance will be given in advance of each assignment. This may be in the form of an in-class discussion, a handout, or discussion of a component of the assessed work. Instructor feedback on essay outline and peer feedback provides further formative opportunities ahead of final essay, which requires expansion and revision of a prior course essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe and critically assess rival views about the ethical significance of work, couched in terms of well-being, virtue, meaningfulness, etc.
  2. Rationally defend philosophically informed views regarding the morality and justice of work and workplace governance
  3. Critically appraise competing visions for work¿s future in their society
  4. Use the knowledge acquired in the course to assess their own professional choices and to more substantively participate in larger societal debates where the nature and value of work are at issue
Reading List
Representative readings

Anderson, Private Government
Black, The Abolition of Work
Cholbi, The Desire to Work as an Adaptive Preference
Cholbi, The Duty to Work
Cholbi, The Ethics of Choosing Jobs and Careers
Danaher, Automation and Utopia
Frase, Four Futures
Frayne, Refusal of Work
Gheaus & Herzog, The Goods of Work (Other Than Money!)
Graeber, Why Capitalism Creates Pointless Jobs
Hochschild, The Managed Heart
James, Surfing with Sartre
Keynes, Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren
Levine, Fairness to Idleness: Is There a Right Not to Work?
Marx, Estranged Labour
Perez Munoz, Essential Services, Workers Freedom, and Distributive Justice
Pieper, Leisure, the Basis of Culture
Russell, In Praise of Idleness
Sandel, Hard Work
Sayers, Why Work? Marx and Human Nature
Shelby, Justice, Work, and the Ghetto Poor
Stanczyk, Productive Justice
Steinvorth, The Right to Work and the Right to Develop One's Capabilities
Svendsen, Work
Veltman, Meaningful Work
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Mindsets: Enquiry and lifelong learning; Aspiration and personal development
Skill groups: Personal and intellectual autonomy; Personal effectiveness
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Michael Cholbi
Course secretaryMs Catriona Keay
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