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Freedom as the Power to Say No: Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income
  • Karl Widerquist
The most difficult thing for a society to do is to avoid oppressing its most disadvantaged people. Yet many prominent theories of justice based on social contract or natural rights stress disadvantaged people’s responsibilities to the wider society as much or more than they stress society’s responsibility to them. This book begins an attempt to rectify that problem with a new theory of Freedom. The word, freedom, is commonly understood in two different ways: the absence of restriction, impediment, or interference (what I call scalar freedom) and the absence of slavery, detention, or oppression (what I call status or categorical freedom). This book argues that philosophers have focused too much on scalar freedom and proposes a theory of status freedom as “effective control self-ownership”—most simply, freedom as the power to say no. This book argues for and explores the implications of this theory of freedom. It shows that most societies today put the poor in situations in which they lack this crucial freedom, making them vulnerable to poverty, exploitation, and injustice despite other policies in place to help them. People who have no other option but to work for someone else to meet their basic needs are effectively forced laborers and are fundamentally unfree. The book argues that the basic income guarantee is an appropriate institution to help secure status freedom in a modern industrial society
  • Basic Income,
  • Freedom,
  • Reciprocity,
  • Indepentarianism
Publication Date
Citation Information
Karl Widerquist. Freedom as the Power to Say No: Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income. (2013)
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