Ethics@Noon: John Enman-Beech

Ethics at Noon

Contract as an Ethical Frame for Employment, Tenancy, and Consumption

What happens when we think employment, tenancy, and consumption (ETC) through the ethical frame of contract? This frame sees ETC as a collection of individual deals that assign obligations to the deals’ parties. The ETC system is justified if the individual deals are justified, and a deal is justified if it is the product of voluntary and informed agreement. But deals are rarely if ever fully voluntary and informed in ETC. This calls the contractual frame into question, but it continues to be used everywhere, from legal doctrine to economic analysis to political rhetoric to individuals’ conceptions of their relationships to their cell providers. My hypothesis: contract perversely conscripts people into choosing and re-choosing the existing social order, entrenching patterns of preferences and entitlements, and thereby (through people’s desire to feel in control of their choices) to identify with their roles.

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John Enman-Beech
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
Doctoral Fellow

Wed, Nov 28, 2018
12:30 PM - 02:00 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
200 Larkin