Work plays an important role in the lives of most contemporary human adults. One of the characteristics of work is that it tends to take up a significant share of our time. At the same time, work remains a sphere of life where questions of justice are central, and new questions of justice arise. Think about the unreasonable demands that corporations make of their warehouse workers, sometimes going as far as restricting their workers to go to the bathroom when they need to go; or about exploitative labor arrangements that limit the access of workers to social welfare when they lose their work.
While work has played a major role in human lives throughout history, the nature of work is also ever changing. Through increases in productivity, we can now produce a higher standard of living, while working fewer hours than at any point in the past. That this is expected to continue in the future is not controversial. What is controversial is whether the increasingly rapid advances in AI technology will lead to a categorical shift in the way we work, and cause widespread technological unemployment. Beside technological advances, there are also different changes in the labor market, such as an increased share of workers in self-employment, a decrease in labor union participation, and, as a result of recent changes due to the Covid pandemic, more workers who work from home.
Through the study of these phenomena, we not only can anticipate them, but we may also be able to affect them. To assess whether we should do so, we not only need a good understanding of what we may expect from changes in the labor market, but we also need an ethical evaluation of these phenomena. In this conference, we aim to bring together economists and ethicists and political philosophers, working on the study of these phenomena from empirical as well as normative approaches. We hope that this will contribute to the formation of an international network of junior and more senior scholars researching the significance of work.
Economic research questions:
– Will the nature of work change as a result of technological innovations or other expected changes?
– Will the role that work plays in our life change as a result of technological innovations or other expected changes?
– Will the distribution of work change in the future as a result of technological innovations or other expected changes?
Philosophical research questions:
– What is domination in work, and to what extent does domination in work render the work morally problematic?
– What is a just distribution of work?
– What is meaningful work? And do we have a right to meaningful work?
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