“This panel invites contributors to elaborate discussions concerning the Basic Income theory and its connection with problematics in the fields of Ethics, Politics, Sociology, and Economics. There are central issues for this panel, which aim for multidisciplinary debates that should stimulate UBI studies in various disciplines.

Therefore, questions that play a key role in this discussion are the following:

  • How can a UBI project tell us more about the potential environmental impacts, and the rise of inequality, unemployment, and poverty around the world?
  • Which social policies should be proposed in coordination with the UBI aiming for higher welfare levels and environmental stability?
  • What are the ex-post consequences of a UBI policy, either in the short, medium or long-term perspectives? How would it affect educational, health, and political spectra, and how does it influence individual freedom?
  • How does one build political and economic conditions for a UBI policy to be approved and how do long-lasting projects impact governmental spending regarding public services?
  • Would a Basic Income project be beneficial to Portugal when faced with the Portuguese socio-economic structure and challenges?”

For details on the panel and its call for papers, click here.

Video Interview: Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy

Video Interview: Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy

In this Video Interview, Dan Schneider interviews me about the book Grant S. McCall and I coedited: Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy. Schneider and I talk about the myth that the state and the private property rights system benefit ever last citizen and how it is used to justify mistreatment of disadvantaged people in industrial societies and of indigenous peoples around the world. It was recorded on May 23, 2019.


Universal Basic Income and the Philosophy of Freedom

The following is an extended excerpt from, “The Future of Work: Universal Basic Income and the Philosophy of Freedom,” by Romany Williams, SSENSE.

The rhetoric that increased entrepreneurship equals a utopian society is one-sided. What about equality as a means for liberation from these systemic ideals?


“UBI is voluntary participation capitalism. What we have now is mandatory participation capitalism. I believe this model of mandatory participation capitalism is an affront to a free society,” says Karl Widerquist, Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar at Georgetown University and author of Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No. “Capitalism is based on people who own all the resources, and other people who can only use those resources if they take a subordinate position. Most of us will have no choice but to participate in the capitalist system, not as a capitalist, but as a worker for years. Basic income gives you the power to say no to that. To say, ‘I work because I want to, not because you threaten me with homelessness and starvation.’”


“The potential for robotics to give us more leisure is incredible if we’re allowed to take it. But most of us can’t demand that. If we don’t work 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, we don’t have any income,” says Widerquist. “We should all receive some of the benefits of automation. If you’ve had a job anytime in the last 40 years, you’ve done something to further the great economic growth we’ve had.”


Chronic economic insecurity is toxic and a sense of freedom doesn’t come from an Instagram feed filled with pictures of nature. Nor does it come from endlessly climbing the corporate ladder. The scarcity mindset that is perpetuated by the lack of proper compensation and workers’ rights only worsens mental health issues, making for an increasingly volatile social and political climate. History proves that the only way to change things is to mobilize. “Remember the 1% is only 1% of the people,” says Widerquist. “We have the other 99%.”

The author of the article excerpted here is Romany Williams, a stylist and associate editor at the fashion magazine, SSENSE, (pronounced “S-sense” or “essence”). I never expected to be interviewed for a fashion magazine, but he did an amazing job giving my ideas context and letting me speak for myself—for good or bad. I’d edit it slightly if I could.

The full text of the article is online: “The Future of Work: Universal Basic Income and the Philosophy of Freedom,” by Romany Williams, SSENSE

United States: Philosophy class examines universal Basic Income whose time has come

United States: Philosophy class examines universal Basic Income whose time has come

A Stanford University class –available on a podcast replays the 1970s Manitoba, Canada, experiment called “mincome,” on the way to rejoicing in Universal Basic Income.

In the U.S., Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who according to some is preparing to run for U.S. President, are promoting universal basic income.

What does basic income mean, students ask? The contentious subject raises many questions, such as: would society fall apart because everyone would just hang out on the couch?

The Stanford class seeks to separate the argument that robots will replace 47% of jobs, a prediction that fuels much of Silicon Valley’s support of basic income, from the “paradigm of work” dialogue, according to Juliana Bidadanure, Assistant Professor in Political Philosophy at Stanford University, who is teaching the class.

The podcast studies the observations of many “experts” on culture, race and gender in an effort to separate jobs (wage-work) from understanding the true nature of work. Several contributions are under analysis, such as the following:

– Doug Henwood — Journalist, economic analyst, and writer whose work has been featured in Harper’s, Jacobin Magazine, and The Nation, says if robots were really taking over, there would be a strong productivity growth in the U.S., which is not true, so far;

– Rutger Bregman — Journalist and author of “Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders and a 15-hour Workweek” thinks that if basic income were accomplished by the government printing money, that situation would definitely lead to inflation. But no inflation fears would be attached to a taxation process;

– Kathi Weeks — Marxist, feminist scholar, associate professor of women’s studies at Duke University in North Carolina, and author of “The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries” believes that wage-work is not the only meaningful activity. She points to pre-industrial society as a good example of when wage-work took a backseat to the value of non-paid work;

– Evelyn Forget — Economist and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba and academic director of the Manitoba Research Data Centre, who first reported the “mincome” data. Forget argues that “mincome” made it possible for single mothers to get off welfare and proudly have a profession.


A second podcast will be available that discusses whether universal basic income is the end of capitalism or not.

More information at:

Podcast: Universal Basic Income – An Idea Whose Time Has Come




BRAGA, PORTUGAL: Philosophy of Work conference (Jul 13-15)

BRAGA, PORTUGAL: Philosophy of Work conference (Jul 13-15)

The University of Minho’s 2017 Summer School in Political Philosophy & Public Policy, which has been scheduled for July 13-15, will center on the theme “Philosophical Ideas for a Brave New World of Work”. As stated in the official event description, “In this summer school we will discuss insights emerging from philosophical reflection on the changing nature of work and think about normative principles guiding the future organization and allocation of work and its benefits and burdens.”

While the event is not a basic income conference per se, its theme is likely to interest many basic income supporters, given the tight connection between contemporary basic income movements and concerns about automation, trends toward precarious employment arrangements, and other changes in the nature of work. Furthermore, interested participants may submit proposals related to basic income, provided that the submission is relevant to the philosophy of work.

The Summer School’s keynote speakers will be Ruth Yeoman (Research Fellow at Oxford) and Lucas Stanczyk (currently research fellow at Brown University, joining the faculty of philosophy at Harvard University in 2017). Yeoman will address questions such as “What is work? Why is meaningful work important? How can we organize work to promote meaningfulness? Is there a right to meaningful work?” She’ll draw upon her extensive previous scholarship on the topic, such as her 2014 book Meaningful Work and Workplace Democracy. Stanczyk will discuss issues related to the question of how much labor a society can reasonably expect from each individual — the theme of his new manuscript, From Each: A Theory of Productive Justice.

The Minho Summer School has been held annually since 2010, focusing each year on a different topic in the intersection of political theory, philosophy, and public policy. Notably, the 2013 summer school was dedicated to basic income. 

The 2017 conference is being organized by Jurgen De Wispelaere (University of Tampere), James Hickson (University of York), and Roberto Merrill (University of Minho). Both Jurgen and Roberto are key figures in the basic income movement. Jurgen has frequently published on basic income in leading journals, and has delivered many lectures on the topic (including in university courses on basic income). Roberto is a leading spokesperson for the basic income movement in Portugal and is currently coordinating the 2017 BIEN Congress in Lisbon.

For more information about the 2017 Minho Summer School, including information about registration and submitting a proposal (due May 20, 2017), see

Reviewed by Genevieve Shanahan

Working people photo CC BY-ND 2.0 R. Halfpaap