Misericordia University student Michael Dubinski of Hanover Township was one of six undergraduates chosen to make a paper presentation at the Phi Sigma Tau Philosophy Conference that was held at the University of Scranton.
A double major in philosophy, and government, law and national security, the junior considered the Marxian problem of alienated labor in his presentation, "Rethinking Human Labor in the 21st Century.'' He argued that humans might be able to re-imagine unalienated labor through an understanding of the activity of labor as it has traditionally been organized in the family.
"Today, under global capitalism, people find themselves having to sell their labor to others, typically strangers, for a wage in order to obtain the necessities of life,'' Dubinski, the son of Joseph and Darlene Dubinski, wrote in his research paper. "For Marx, this creates a situation wherein we may find it difficult to identify with the processes and products of our labor – we feel alienated from ourselves, others, and the world.''
In his presentation, Dubinski argued that each job – no matter how undesirable – is instrumental in ensuring the survival and flourishing of the local community and the human community at-large. He also suggested that leisure is necessary for flourishing of the human community, as it is a realm in which human beings pursue excellence in recreation, education, the arts, and politics.
During the question-and-answer session that followed his presentation, Jay Bernstein, Ph.D., a distinguished professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research, New York, New York, asked Dubinski to define family and expand upon what it means to operate in a large-scale human family. At the conclusion, participants agreed that the discussion of family can serve as a starting point to re-envisioning meaningful labor.
Phi Sigma Tau is an international honor society for philosophers.