Fair Wage: An Analysis of a Very Slippery Concept


It's a fair question: "What, exactly, is a 'fair wage'?" Everybody who works wants one that's at least fair, if not generous. Employers, too, want to pay a fair wage, even if only in the sense that they don't want to be gouged, pressured and/or gullible. What about the flip side, the "unfair wage"?

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Fair Wage: An Analysis of a Very Slippery Concept

What you will learn in this eBook

Reflection on the concept of a fair fight suggests that a boxing match is also an unsuitable model for framing our concepts of a fair wage. A fight is fair only when, in addition to the fight's proceeding "according to the rules", e.g., is not fixed or otherwise "dirty", the outcome is not a foregone conclusion, i.e., it is neither utterly predictable nor guaranteed, e.g., because of a gross mismatch or because the fight is rigged.

While a vastly, indeed, absurdly, superior boxer's pay in a "winner-take-all" fight may in some sense be fair even though he and everybody else knows he is going to win, the fight itself will in no way be fair, because of its utter predictability.

Hence, it would seem that this "unpredictability"-based boxing standard cannot apply to wages: Whereas in boxing, a match is fair only if the outcome is not completely predictable, how could a office worker's wage be fair when the outcome (of job performance) is not assured, namely, when for X amount of effort, there will not be an assured Y amount of reward?

About the author

Michael Moffa
Michael Moffa
Michael Moffa, writer for Recruiter.com, is a former editor and writer with China Daily News, Hong Kong edition and Editor-in-chief, Business Insight Japan Magazine, Tokyo; he has also been a columnist with one of Japan's national newspapers,The Daily Yomiuri, and a university lecturer (critical thinking and philosophy).
Fair Wage: An Analysis of a Very Slippery Concept