This research falls within the field of normative business ethics. Its aim is to examine the moral nature of the employment relationship in western democracies by examining the liberal, democratic justifications that are normally advanced for its probity. Its concern is to challenge the notion that the employment relationship is in conformity with these liberal democratic values. Thus, the research is an exercise in the examination of the application of the liberal, democratic tradition to the social institution of employment. Thus research examines areas of dissonance between the political relationship of employee - employer and the dominant values of the liberal tradition found elsewhere in western democracies. The research firstly identifies the key moral characteristics of the employment relationship in private, capitalist organisations. This is derived from a consideration of the development historically, of the employment relationship, with acknowledgement of the combined influences of statute, common law, contract law and custom in forming the current employee relationship. Secondly, the research identifies the justificatory arguments from the liberal tradition that are normally advanced in support of the employment relationship's moral probity. These include notions of rights deriving from private property, the separation of social life into public and private spheres and the application of contract law to employment. Thirdly, the research examines these arguments for their moral probity. Specifically, this involves an examination of the arguments regarding the private property status of employing organisations, the application of contract law to employment, the moral characteristics of the master and servant relationship as a basis for employment and the relevance of democratic values within employment. As an additional perspective, the literature on human needs is reviewed as a source, outside of the liberal tradition, for a basis upon which to outline the moral requirements of human relationships to work.
Sansbury, George Ernest
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