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Should surfers be ostracized?: Basic income, liberal neutrality, and the work ethos
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2011 (English)In: Politics, Philosophy and Economics, ISSN 1470-594X, E-ISSN 1741-3060, Vol. 10, no 4, 396-419 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Neutralists have argued that there is something illiberal about linking access to gift-like resources to work requirements.  The central liberal motivation for basic income is to provide greater freedom to choose between different ways of life, including  options attaching great importance to non-market activities and disposable time. As argued by Philippe Van Parijs, even those  spending their days surfing should be fed. This article examines Van Parijs' dual commitment to a ‘real libertarian’ justification of basic income and the public enforcement of a strong work ethos, which serves to boost the volume of work at a given rate of taxation. It is argued (contra Van Parijs) that this alliance faces the neutrality objection: the work ethos will largely offset the liberal gains of unconditionality by radically restricting the set of permissible options available. A relaxed, non-obligatory ethos might avoid this implication. This view, however, is vulnerable to the structural exploitation objection: feasibility is achieved only because some choose to do necessary tasks to which most people have the same aversion. In light of these objections, the article examines whether there is a morally untainted feasibility path consistent with liberal objectives.                 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 10, no 4, 396-419 p.
Keyword [en]
basic income, liberal neutrality, work ethos, structural exploitation, real libertarianism
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-64816DOI: 10.1177/1470594X10386569ISI: 000297326100003OAI: diva2:459048
Available from: 2011-11-24 Created: 2011-11-24 Last updated: 2012-01-23Bibliographically approved

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Birnbaum, Simon
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