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2000 (22) Heft 2

Basic Income?
Symposium on P. Van Parijs, "Real Freedom for All"


Guest-Editor: Angelika Krebs

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Angelika Krebs
Why Mothers Should Be Fed. Eine Kritik an Van Parijs

Abstract: This paper reconstructs Van Parijs' core argument for an unconditional basic income and presents three objections against it. The first and most theoretical objection attacks the egalitarian basis of Van Parijs' argument and suggests an alternative, humanitarian theory of justice. The second and third more concrete objections accuse Van Parijs of selling-out the right to work as well as the right to recognition of work, for example of family work. The conclusion drawn from these three objections, however, is not that an unconditional basic income cannot be defended. Instead the paper ends by indicating an alternative, humanitarian argument for an unconditional basic income.

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Heiner Michel
Sind Marktpreise gerecht? Eine Kritik am Van Parijsschen Ökonomismus

Abstract: This article objects to two major economistic shortcomings of Philippe Van Parijs's 'Real Freedom for All': (1) Van Parijs claims that market prices are the best metric for equal real freedom. This is challenged. Market prices admittedly are the best instrument for distributive purposes at hand. They are, however, a means of transport for supply and demand contingencies. Hence market prices are to be considered as an insufficient metric for equal freedom. (2) Van Parijs claims that 'Real Freedom for All' is all there is to social justice. This claim is rejected. Despite its demanding egalitarian ambition, 'Real Freedom for All' fails to protect a flourishing human life. Basic human rights like the right to social recognition and, in part, the right to health care are violated. Curiously even the right to autonomy is in want of full protection. These lacks are caused by the monetarism and the straightforward market optimism of 'Real Freedom for All'.

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Richard Sturn / Rudi Dujmovits
Basic Income in Complex Worlds. Individual Freedom and Social Interdependencies

Abstract: This paper is about difficulties in the normative justification of an unconditional basic income - difficulties which are related to the scope of egalitarian justice as well as the dimension(s) of the equalisandum. More specifically, it is contended that Philippe Van Parijs's justification derived from the principle of Maximin real freedom runs into problems in environments in which scarcity does not offer a conceptual basis for a satisfactory account of social interdependencies. We discuss the following cases: (i) Scarcity is seen as a general equilibrium phenomenon in a dynamic environment. (ii) Social forces of production (particularly non-rival and only partially excludable inputs) play a role in creating wealth. (iii) Informal exclusion mechanisms and patterns of ,local justice, matter. (iv) Certain forms of heterogeneity play a role.

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Søren Flinch Midtgaard
Ambition-Sensitivity and an Unconditional Basic Income

Abstract: This paper concerns Philippe Van Parijs's case for an unconditional basic income. It argues that given central egalitarian commitments - to wit, (i) equal concern and respect; (ii) endowment-insensitivity (which can be seen to include Van Parijs's project of maximizing or leximinning real freedom); (iii) ambition-sensitivity; and (iv) neutrality - endorsed by Van Parijs, a basic income does not appear to be a requirement of justice. The core claim defended is that there is a serious tension between (iii) and the idea of an unconditional basic income.

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Jurgen De Wispelaere
Sharing Job Resources. Ethical Reflections on the Justification of Basic Income

Abstract: Philippe Van Parijs's ethical justification of basic income is based on the argument that job resources must be shared equally. Underlying this idea are two important claims: (1) all individuals in society hold an ex ante entitlement in job resources and (2) job resources are tradable. First, I present the real-libertarian argument for sharing job resources. Next, I identify and critically review three different objections against this view: the liability objection, the cooperation objection and the parasitism objection. I believe the parasitism objection poses a serious challenge to basic income, and argue that Van Parijs's most plausible response - based on the idea that job resources are socially owned - is flawed. I provide the outline of an alternative normative basis for grounding a person's ex ante entitlement to job resources using an institutionalist approach.

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Ulrich Steinvorth
Kann das Grundeinkommen die Arbeitslosigkeit abbauen?

Abstract: I agree with Van Parijs that a theory of justice must meet the condition of indicating institutions that eliminate compulsory unemployment, but argue that his basic income is another form of unemployment compensation with all the disadvantages such compensations suffer from. In particular, it does not advance real freedom, but is liable to contribute to narrow political ends. I indicate an alternative and explicate, since Van Parijs disregards it, the right to work and its basis in the common property of natural resources. Finally, I compare the two competing conceptions of a good life that underlie his recommendation of a basic income and my rejection of it.

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