12th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Parr

Thomas Parr

Citizenship and Freedom of Occupational Choice

The Liberal View holds that each person has a right to freedom of occupational choice that entails a legal and moral permission not to be guided by considerations of distributive justice when making occupational choices. On this view, a person’s occupational choices are not subject to assessment by the principles of distributive justice. Thus, it is not unjust for a person knowingly to make an occupational choice that fails to satisfy what would otherwise be the demands of distributive justice by, say, choosing to pursue an occupation that fails to maximise the position of the least advantaged. The Liberal View has been defended in different ways. The aim of this paper is to examine only one argument in defence of this view: the Citizenship Argument. A version of this argument is initially sketched by John Rawls and latter developed by others sympathetic to his approach. The Citizenship Argument’s central claim is that the Liberal View follows from a proper understanding of the ideal of citizenship. My presentation of this argument takes place in Sections I and II. In Section III, I then offer an objection to the Citizenship Argument. The objection shows not that the argument fails, but instead that the argument succeeds in granting each citizen a right to freedom of occupational choice that is much more limited than is typically assumed by proponents of the Liberal View. This is not to say that a more expansive right cannot be justified. Here, I claim only that it cannot be justified specifically by appeal to the Citizenship Argument. I conclude in Section IV.