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Basic Income Studies

Ed. by Haagh, Anne-Louise / Howard, Michael

CiteScore 2018: 0.47

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.111
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.053

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Milton Friedman on Freedom and the Negative Income Tax

Joshua Preiss
Published Online: 2015-10-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bis-2015-0008


In addition to his Noble Prize-winning work in economics, Milton Friedman produced some of the most influential philosophical work on the role of government in a free society. Despite his great influence, there remains a dearth of scholarship on Friedman’s social and political philosophy. This paper helps to fill this large void by providing a conceptual analysis of Friedman’s theory of freedom. In addition, I argue that a careful reading of his arguments for freedom ought to lead Friedman, and like-minded liberals and libertarians, to give absolute priority to his negative income tax proposal. A substantial basic income furthers effective economic freedom (on Friedman’s own understanding), redeems his central claim that markets enable cooperation without coercion, and enables him to address his lifelong interlocutors by mitigating concerns for the ways in which economic dependence and inequality undermine both freedom and democratic legitimacy.

Keywords: negative income tax; freedom; ethics and economics; liberalism; republicanism


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-10-14

Published in Print: 2015-12-01

Citation Information: Basic Income Studies, Volume 10, Issue 2, Pages 169–191, ISSN (Online) 1932-0183, ISSN (Print) 2194-6094, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bis-2015-0008.

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