Liberty, Reciprocity, and the Justification of a Basic Income

Click here to read Philipp Klotz, Liberty Reciprocity and the Justification of a Basic Income_Master Thesis LSE

Philipp Klotz writes about his dissertation:

I will argue in favour of a Basic Income, that is, I will present arguments which support my conclusion that specific forms of a Basic Income can be justified.

Basic Income in its general version is a policy that describes schemes of income support paid to members of a particular community. The most frequently discussed version of Basic Income is the Unconditional Basic Income (UBI). This is, as Philippe van Parijs described it, an income which is “paid by a political community to all its members on an unconditional basis, without means test or work requirement” (van Parijs, 2004, 7). Further, the UBI is paid in form of a regular payment, yearly, monthly or even daily. It is also non-withdrawable, which means it is paid irrespective of income to rich and poor alike. Finally, the UBI, as defined here, is set at a level which is high enough to cover a standard set of basic needs and is financed through an income tax on working members of the community.

I will proceed as follows. In the first chapter of this thesis I will develop the ethical justification for the UBI with arguments from within the liberal-egalitarian tradition supporting this public policy. In the following chapter, I will discuss objections to the UBI concluding with an argument that the UBI has little hope of being considered a justifiable public policy. The third chapter will examine how, even though the UBI seems to be problematic, there are good arguments justifying a different version of a Basic Income. I will propose the case for a Time-Restricted Basic Income (TBI) and will argue that this version of a Basic Income is almost equally successful in achieving the goals outlined in the first chapter. Moreover, it is less open to the objections that the UBI faced. The TBI is therefore a compromise palatable to both, the proponents of the UBI and also to those that objected to this policy.