Dr Martin O’Neill

ISRF Early Career Fellow 2014-15 & Mid-Career Fellow 2017-18

Dr Martin O’Neill

ISRF Early Career Fellow 2014-15 & Mid-Career Fellow 2017-18

ISRF Martin O'Neill

I moved across to the Department of Philosophy in 2018, having taught in the Department of Politics at York since 2010. Before that, I was Hallsworth Research Fellow in Political Economy at the University of Manchester (2007-2009), and, before that, Research Fellow in Philosophy and Politics at St John’s College, University of Cambridge (2004-2007). I did my PhD in the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University, supervised by T. M. Scanlon and Derek Parfit. During my time at Harvard I also spent time as a Graduate Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra University Center for Ethics, and as a Graduate Fellow in the interdisciplinary Project on Justice, Welfare and Economics. Before that I did a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), and later the B.Phil in Philosophy, both at Balliol College, University of Oxford.

Originally from London, I’ve been living in the north of England for a dozen years, and now think of myself as an adopted Northerner. One of my proudest achievements is to be raising four Arsenal fans in Yorkshire.

Democracy at Work: Power, Voice and Employment in the 21st Century

Work is a central domain of human activity. Our working lives help to mould our character, and play an often-decisive role in whether our not we are able to succeed in the development and pursuit of our life-plans. Work can be a site of human liberation, and can provide opportunities for cooperative self-development. Alternatively, it can be a domain of oppression and domination, and can stultify rather than facilitate human flourishing.

Clearly the organisation and regulation of work, and of labour market institutions, is a fundamental matter of political concern, and generates foundational questions of social justice. Political philosophers have a responsibility to investigate the question of what sort of workplaces can legitimately be justified within democratic societies, and to develop a normative analysis and an agenda for reform that is sensitive both to the underlying conceptual and normative issues of social justice that are in play, and to the really-existing institutional structures and historical trajectories that shape the current structures of working life.

This project will seek to discharge that responsibility. It will seek to investigate the way in which work structures and distributes power and voice for employees, and asks what alternative arrangements might be desirable or accessible. In doing so, particular attention will be paid to how the commitments to equal concern and respect for democratic citizens can be extended into the workplace, and how democratic societies can use the power of the state to change the regulation of employment so that working life will more often take a form that is justifiable to free and equal citizens. At the same time, the research is also addressed to activists, unions and other institutional actors, with the aim of aiding in the task of developing a 21st century agenda for the reform of working life.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at lars.cornelissen@isrf.org.