Human freedom and human capital*

Brian Langille

in The Role of Labour Standards in Development

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264911
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754098 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Original Paperbacks

Human freedom and human capital*

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This book examines the role of labour standards in sustainable development and this chapter addresses this issue at a fairly abstract level. It argues that if we could have clear thinking about labour standards and clear thinking about sustainable development, then we would say that there is an intimate connection and profound overlap between labour standards and development. This is because, first, there is an intimate and profound connection between human freedom on the one hand, and human capital on the other. Second, development is the process of the removal of obstacles to real human freedom conceived of as the real capacity to lead lives which we have reason to value. Third, labour law is that part of our law which structures and mobilises the deployment of human capital, that is, which structures and mobilises the ‘exploitation’ (in the best sense of the word) of human capital, which is at the core of human freedom. Thus, if development is about human freedom and labour law is about human capital, then labour law is a key to development.

Keywords: labour standards; sustainable development; human freedom; human capital; labour law

Chapter.  4386 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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