The Normativity of Work: Lockean and Marxist Overlapping Consensus on Just Work


Work is an integral part of modern society. However, the question of the normative conditions that distinguish just from unjust work has been under-investigated in political theory. This article, by comparing the Lockean and Marxist views of just work, aims to show that a set of overlapping normative requirements of just work can be derived from them despite their polarized economic and political views. Locke has been appropriated by contemporary libertarians as the central figure of right-based libertarian market economy while Marx has been seen by the left as a central intellectual resource to criticize capitalism’s tendency for degrading work. Given this usual polarization, the article can shed light on a common set of normative requirements concerning just work between them. This overlapping set of normative requirements of just work invites reflections on possible common grounds of just work between the contemporary right and the left who have appropriated the two thinkers as their foundational theoretical building blocks.

Journal of Human Values, 26(3), 228-237
Chi Kwok
Assistant Professor