Real Freedom for All: What (if Anything) Can Justify Capitalism?

"What is a just society? It is a society in which the real freedom to do whatever one might wish to do is fairly distributed among all. This conception of social justice combines freedom, equality, and efficiency. It justifies granting to each citizen an unconditional basic income at the highest sustainable level consistent with two conditions: respect for everyone's formal freedom and an appropriate level of resources target at the less able. Is such an unconditional basic income not a recipe for exploitation of the hard workers by the lazy? Not in any sense that makes exploitation intrinsically unjust. Can a higher unconditional basic income be sustainably achieved under capitalism than under socialism? There are empirical and theoretical reasons to think so. But only the effective presence of such a powerful and liberating distributive mechanism can justify capitalism."

1997

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