Three rival versions of work and technology: Smith, Marx, and Macintyre in Discussion

Javier Pinto-Garay*, Germán Scalzo*, Ignacio Ferrero*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by the wide introduction of automation in industry, brought about many changes in work and in the possibility of replacing workers with machines that are threatening the future of work. This chapter delves into the conflictive relationship between modern work and technology. We will depart from two main paradigmatic representatives of the eighteenth-century economic approach to work, namely Adam Smith and Karl Marx, mostly considered intellectual antagonists. Besides their differences, we sustain that both failed to give a sustainable and realistic account of the meaning of work and its contribution to individual flourishing and the common good, mainly because of their reductionist anthropological assumptions. Hence, we will analyze their understandings of the work-technology relationship in light of the thought of MacIntyre, a prominent critic of both Marx and Smith. By rehabilitating the idea of a practice, MacIntyre offers a more realistic and robust approach to understanding the way technology might negatively affect work, but also recognizes it as an opportunity for excellence in modern corporations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophy and Business Ethics
Subtitle of host publicationOrganizations, CSR and Moral Practice
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783030971069
ISBN (Print)9783030971052
StatePublished - 6 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022. All rights reserved.


  • MacIntyre
  • Marx
  • Practice
  • Smith
  • Technology
  • Work


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