Business Ethics Quarterly
In this address, I distinguish and explore three conceptions of wages. A wage is a reward, given in recognition of the performance of a valued task. It is also an incentive: a way to entice workers to take and keep jobs, and to motivate them to work hard. Finally, a wage is a price of labor, and like all prices, conveys valuable information about relative scarcity. I show that each conception of wages has its own normative logic, or appropriate justification, and these logics can come apart. This explains some of the debate about wages and makes the project of justifying a wage simpliciter difficult. I identify which logic we should choose, since we must choose, and say what this means for how we should think about the justification of pay.
Moriarty, Jeffrey, 2020. What's in a Wage? A New Approach to the Justification of Pay, Business Ethics Quarterly.