Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Firms, States, and Democracy: A Qualified Defense of the Parallel Case Argument

Iñigo González-Ricoy


The paper discusses the structure, applications, and plausibility of the muchused
parallel-case argument for workplace democracy. The argument rests
on an analogy between firms and states according to which the justification
of democracy in the state implies its justification in the workplace. The
contribution of the paper is threefold. First, the argument is illustrated by
applying it to two usual objections to workplace democracy, namely, that
employees lack the expertise required to run a firm and that only capital
suppliers should have a say over the governance of the firm. Second,
the structure of the argument is unfolded. Third, two salient similarities
between firms and states regarding their internal and external effects and
the standing of their members are addressed in order to asses the potential
and limits of the argument, as well as three relevant differences regarding
the voluntariness of their membership, the narrowness of their goals, and
the stiffness of the competition they face. After considering these similarities
and differences, the paper contends that the the parallel-case argument
provides a sound reason in favor of democracy in the workplace —a reason,
however, that needs to be importantly qualified and that is only pro tanto.

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