Philosophy Seminar Series: Daniel Halliday (Melbourne) – School of Humanities Philosophy Seminar Series: Daniel Halliday (Melbourne) – School of Humanities

Philosophy Seminar Series: Daniel Halliday (Melbourne)

Philosophy Seminar Series

Daniel Halliday University of Melbourne | 3:30pm, May 17, 2023

The Foundations and Limits of Employer Authority

Employment is among the more entrenched and pervasive legal relationships that we participate in. It is also associated with a host of injustices: Employers can dominate workers, invade their privacy, terminate the relationship for bad reasons, or otherwise make objectionable demands. At the same time, it is undeniable that, even under ideal conditions, employment has to be some kind of hierarchical relationship whereby people agree to cede some (limited but real) control over their lives to an employer.

Political philosophers tend to work on questions of how to remedy some problematic feature of employment without theorising more generally about what sort of relationship employment is, or must be. In this talk, I argue that the employment relationship often occupies a middle ground (or can vacillate between) two opposed categories of cooperative relationship. On the one hand, cooperation can occur between parties that share little in common, and where the goal is merely to coordinate activity for mutual advantage. At the other end are relationships whose success requires a substantial sharing of ends or values. Employment is tricky because it is not always clear where it lies on this spectrum. The solution is to recognise that firms very often cannot function via explicit commands from managers, but on what is misleadingly called ‘workplace culture’. This can be disambiguated as the degree to which a sharing of ends among employees is necessary for the firm to produce its outputs. The limits of employer authority, and thus the range of demands that an employer can legitimately make, should be thought of as sensitive to how well this condition is satisfied.


Hybrid Event
Philosophy Seminar Room (N494)

To view the seminar online, please sign up to the SydPhil mailing list to receive the zoom link


Image: Photo by Micha Frank


To join our mailing list, simply subscribe here

Social Media


May 17 2023


3:30 pm


Philosophy seminar room, Quadrangle N494
Philosophy seminar room, Quadrangle N494
Philosophy Seminar Room N494 Quadrangle A14



Comments are closed.