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Unformatted text preview: e-Handout Business & Professional Ethics Lecture 7 1 Dr. David E. McClean This Lecture Discusses Issues of Employment and Employee Rights To recap some things expressed in the last lecture, the need for employment is a critical one. Obviously, without it we lack the ability to feed ourselves, house ourselves, or clothe ourselves. But beyond these abilities, we lack the ability to forge a life worth living – a life that is a life of dignity and self-respect. The lack of a job means the lack of income. It would not take too long before most of us found ourselves in dire straits without a steady and adequate income. We would not be able to support ourselves, our families or our communities . We would not be able to be good and productive citizens . We would become charges of the state, or worse. Boatright discusses the nature of the employment relationship as resting upon, among others, property rights and freedom of contract. The idea of property rights, as we understand it in the West, comes from John Locke’s labor theory of value . It is this view that, in substantive part, inform s Nozick’s extreme libertarian position (Boatright, 74 and 75). The labor theory of value holds that "value" of an good or service is based upon the amount of labor required to produce it. This theory is then also a theory of price determination . Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx are most often associated with this theory. In point of fact the theory dates back to Locke. In his Second Treatise on Government , Locke asked how it is anyone can claim ownership of any part of the world. Locke was a Christian, and operated from the assumption that God gave the world to humanity in general. Locke reasoned that persons own themselves by right, a right granted by God, and so it must be the case that he owns his own labor. As a person labors on something – a fence or a book or a work of art – the labor is transferred or transfused into the object of labor (the fence, the book, the art work). And that is how the object of labor comes to be owned. Locke held that individual property is held by natural right, and so the object of property is the person’s by virtue of his or her labor upon it. This is the beginning of the notion of property rights. A first order obligation of government, then, is to protect property rights. Locke says in his Two Treatises on Government , that “The great and chief end, therefore, of men's uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property.” He qualifies his theory of a Social Contract, Compact, or Covenant, by pointing out that “men when they enter into society give up ... liberty of a kind; yet it being only with an intention in every one the better to preserve himself, his liberty and property,” the power conferred “can never be supposed to extend farther than the common good, but is obliged to secure everyone's property,” etc., etc. This artful qualification of than the common good, but is obliged to secure everyone's property,” etc....
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