Since this last post Penn State University continues to be very much in the news about its wellness program. This post provides an update not just about recent coverage but also to provide links to experts whose views about the soundness of aspects of the program may broaden the scope of discussion. It is provided in the interest of analysis and debate, including on the general issues raised by programs of this kind of benefits offered by enterprises in the U.S. It also suggests some of the complications of emerging issues of consultation in shared governance contexts in the face of increasingly large informational asymmetries between administration and faculty.
As a matter of core principle, and consistent with emerging principles of international human rights norms, I continue to emphasize that, like any other institutional organ, an enterprise (like a university) must exercise substantial restraint and sensitivity when it seeks to manage or to appropriate to itself a power to manage or control the personal choices of individuals in ways that touch on the human dignity and personal autonomy of the individual. In many highly developed Western states, the protection of human dignity and personal autonomy is a matter of constitutional commitment. At its limit, of course, that protection serves as a rationale for the suppression of slavery and the incidents of slavery as a matter of law. But between slavery and complete personal freedom there is a large space within which the state, and the enterprises it permits to operate within its borders, permit some control of autonomy. That space, of course, is essential for the operation of a free society, and is usually grounded, in the area of human economic activity, on the boundaries within which enterprises may hire labor to meet its specific objectives.