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Consent, Contestability and Employer Authority
KTH, Stockholm, Sweden.
2009 (English)In: Revue de philosophie économique, ISSN 1376-0971, Vol. 10, no 2, 47-79 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A common idea is that market exchange is justified by informed and free agreement between parties. This paper investigates the idea that employer authority is justified by consent. According to this view, agents in the market are informed of the consequences of their actions and are not coerced. This makes their acts voluntary. A problem in the application of this justification to the employer/employee relationship is pointed out. If the contemporary economics of the employment contracts is correct, we must, in order to explain the existence of such contracts, make the assumption that the contracting parties are attempting to deal with decision-theoretic ignorance. This is why the parties agree to an incomplete contract in which the employer has authority. However, this implies that consent to acts of authority has been given under conditions of ignorance; it follows, then, that the course of action that the employer chooses to take cannot be justified by consent because the informedness criterion of consent will not have been satisfied due to this ignorance. Another method of justification must be sought. It is suggested that in order to achieve justification of acts of authority, there should be in place a real possibility to contest employers’ decisions. This possibility is needed, rather than just more information, because if the “volenti not fit injura”-principle is not in effect, then the employee is in a coercive situation. This problem of coercion must be alleviated before justification on the basis of informed voluntariness can be achieved. Pettit’s idea of contestability will then be applied. The firm must satisfy three conditions in order to make effective contestability possible. There must be a basis and channels for contest, which means that there must be transparency as well as effective measures to make grievances heard. There must also be a forum of contest where proper hearings of contestations are guaranteed.


KEYWORDS: Contestability, Consent, Ignorance, Incomplete Contracts, Employment Contracts.

Abstract [fr]

Cet article discute l’argument selon lequel l’autorité de l’employeur se légitime par le consentement des employés. Si l’analyse économique contemporaine des contrats de travail est correcte, alors nous devons, pour expliquer l’existence de contrats de travail, faire l’hypothèse que les parties qui le signent essaient de réduire leur incertitude ou leur ignorance en prévision de décisions à prendre. C’est pourquoi les parties sont d’accord pour signer un contrat incomplet dans lequel l’employeur à l’autorité. Cependant, ceci implique que le consentement a été donné sous des conditions d’ignorance. Il en découle alors que les décisions prises par l’employeur ne peuvent pas être justifiées par le consentement parce que l’ignorance empêche de satisfaire le critère selon lequel le consentement ne peut être le fait que d’individus informés. Il faut donc trouver une autre légitimation à l’autorité des employeurs sur les employés. Nous suggérons que les actes d’autorité ne peuvent être légitimes que si les employés ont de réelles possibilités pour les contester.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages , 2009. Vol. 10, no 2, 47-79 p.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-85887DOI: 10.3917/rpec.102.0047OAI: diva2:696046
Available from: 2014-02-12 Created: 2014-02-12 Last updated: 2014-02-20Bibliographically approved

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Lindblom, Lars
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