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The Freedom-based Account of Solidarity and Basic Income

ABSTRACT

Real-libertarianism, as it is expressed in Philippe Van Parijs' recent monograph Real Freedom for All is characteristically committed to both self-ownership and 'solidarity’ with the infirm or handicapped. In this article it is argued that the conception of (real) freedom that is used to endorse self-ownership is inconsistent with the conception of (social) freedom or opportunity that is used to justify transfer payments to those with no or low earning capacity. The problem turns around the question whether one's freedom consists in the access one has to a share of the social product or in the measure of economic self-sufficiency one enjoys. Accordingly the role of private property in external resources as a condition for freedom is unclear: is it the basis of people's capacity for self-determination or is it the basis of people's bargaining power? Van Parijs' commitment to self-ownership suggests the former, his commitment to solidarity suggests the latter. A similar ambivalence is pointed out in his argument for a universal basic income, for which Real Freedom for All is so well-known.