Basic Income Reconsidered: Social Justice, Liberalism, and the Demands of Equality

Hardcover | February 15, 2012

bySimon Birnbaum

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The idea of guaranteeing every member of society an unconditional basic income is one the most innovative and powerful proposals for countering our growing economic inequalities and to sustainably prevent poverty. But would this be a just thing to do? In the last few decades, debates on the ethics and economics of basic income have become increasingly sophisticated and diverse. Basic Income Reconsidered provides an up-to-date assessment of these arguments, and works out a novel contribution based on the justification of unconditional universalism. Birnbaum's argument studies the basic income proposal, and its main rivals, through the lens of John Rawls' theory of justice and defends a radical-liberal interpretation of Rawls' conception. It is radical in the sense that it demands far-reaching equalization of opportunities. It is, at the same time, liberal by insisting that people must be left free to use their resource shares for a much wider range of purposes and life plans than those typically accessible through existing welfare states.

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The idea of guaranteeing every member of society an unconditional basic income is one the most innovative and powerful proposals for countering our growing economic inequalities and to sustainably prevent poverty. But would this be a just thing to do? In the last few decades, debates on the ethics and economics of basic income have bec...

Simon Birnbaum is currently a research fellow in the Department of Political Science and Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University. He was a visiting graduate at University of Oxford (2006-2007). After receiving his Ph.D. in 2008, he has held fellowships at the Hoover Chair of Economic and Social Ethics, Catholic University ...

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Paperback|Sep 10 2015

$28.95

Format:HardcoverDimensions:258 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.62 inPublished:February 15, 2012Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230114067

ISBN - 13:9780230114067

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments * Introduction and Overview * 1. Basic Income, Liberal Egalitarianism, and the Study of Social Justice * Part One. A Society of Equals: Radical Liberalism, Self-Respect, and Basic Income * 2. Equality of Status and its Priority: A Rawlsian Case for Basic Income * 3. Are Only Contributors Entitled to Social Rights? Cooperation, Reciprocity and the Boundaries of Social Justic * Part Two. The Exploitation Objection Against Basic Income: Equality of Opportunity, Luck and Responsibility * 4. Why Unconditional Transfers Are Not Exploitative * 5. Jobs as Gifts. A Reconstruction and a Qualified Defense * Part Three. The Feasibility of Basic Income: Social Ethos, Work, and the Politics of Universalism * 6. Why Do People Work if They Don’t Have To? Basic Income, Liberal Neutrality and the Work Ethos * 7. Social Justice in Practice. On the Political Implications of Radical Liberalism * References * Index

Editorial Reviews

"An extremely intelligent and cogent defense of basic income as part of a public policy setting aimed at strengthening the economic foundations of freedom and autonomy. Built on high-quality philosophical analysis and deep comprehensive knowledge of the basic income debate, Simon Birnbaum's book offers forceful arguments for reshaping welfare regimes in the direction of a new autonomy-enhancing social consensus. An absolute must read for those who believe that emancipation is to be universally and unconditionally achieved." - David Casassas, research fellow, University of Barcelona; and secretary of Basic Income Earth Network"At a time when economic insecurity and inequality have reached unprecedented levels, Simon Birnbaum constructs a highly innovative 'radically liberal' justification for unconditional basic income that pays as much attention to philosophical foundations as to considerations of feasibility and political reality. Basic Income Reconsidered offers its readers a carefully argued and intuitively appealing vision of why basic income is a must, and navigates the many objections to this proposal in a way that will shape the debate for years to come. This is the book many of us have been waiting to read since Philippe Van Parijs published his pioneering work almost two decades ago." - Jurgen De Wispelaere, senior research fellow, CRÉUM, Université de Montréal; and editor of Basic Income Studies"How can you boost the level of unconditional basic income that can be sustained in a particular society? By spreading in the latter such a strong work ethos that its members will work very hard no matter how heavily their incomes are being taxed. But does this not make nonsense of the real freedom to live as they wish which an unconditional income is meant to confer to its beneficiaries?This is one of the powerful objections to the basic income proposal which Simon Birnbaum discusses with great virtuosity in this new book, one of the most insightful and comprehensive treatments so far of the ethical foundations of radical welfare reform." - Philippe Van Parijs, Universities of Louvain and Oxford"The book is full of enlightening argument, and particularly compelling is a method which sets out from a situation in which a Basic Income has been implemented and then studies a situation in which it has been abolished. This method is well employed on p.59 to demolish the ethical argument for 'welfare to work' policies." - The Citizen's Income Newsletter