Internal Research WiP: Dr Katrien Devolder

The Concept and Ethics of Laziness


Abstract: There is reason to believe that our current use of the concept of laziness is impactful and results in widespread and significant harm. Arguably mistaken but widespread views about laziness result in burnouts, profound anxiety and low esteem when we cannot live up to the expectations of a productive life, and, potentially, in wrongful treatment when we are unjustifiably labelled as lazy. They also impede access to appropriate help, including medical help, as once the laziness label is attributed this often means the end of a search for, or offer of, medical help. Attributions of laziness also frequently result in discriminatory practices, which may have serious implications for access to employment and other services, including health services.
The main aim of this project is to investigate the concept and ethics of laziness, and to develop a novel comprehensive conceptual account of laziness that can be expected to improve rather than reduce human wellbeing and health. Such an account should (i) capture common sense ideas about laziness, (ii) reduce harmful and wrongful applications of the concept, and (iii) bring greater clarity to normative debates where an (explicit or implicit) appeal to laziness is made, including debates regarding universal basic income, and stigma and prejudice in healthcare and employment.

This internal talk is for Oxford Uehiro Centre members and associates.


Zoom Meeting: Email to request the meeting link and passcode