Courses related to Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income: the Philosophy Behind the Proposal

Among the various objections to UBI, one concern its moral adequacy: Isn’t it fundamentally unjust to give cash to all indiscriminately rather than to those who need it and deserve it? Over the years, a variety of scholars have defended the policy on moral grounds, arguing that UBI is a tool of equality, liberal freedom, republican freedom, gender equity, or racial equity. Many others have attacked UBI on those very same grounds, making the case that alternative policy proposals like the job guarantee, means-tested benefits, conditional benefits, or reparations should be preferred. In this class, students will learn about political theory and ethics through the specific angle of the policy proposal, and they will develop an expertise on the philosophy, politics and economics of UBI.

The seminar is open to undergraduate and graduate students in all departments. There are no pre-requisites.

Course numbers:

ETHICSOC 174B / 274B
PHIL 174B / 274B
We will ask questions such as: is giving people cash no strings attached desirable and just? Would basic income promote a more gender equal society through the remuneration of care-work, or would it risks further entrenching the position of women as care-givers? Would alternative policies be more successful (such as the job guarantees, stakeholder grants or a negative income tax)? How can we test out basic income? What makes for a reliable and ethical basic income pilot? Students in Politics, Philosophy, Public Policy, Social Work, and Sociology should find most of those questions relevant to their interests. Some discussions on how to fund basic income, on the macro-economic implications of basic income and on the existing pilots projects (in Finland, Namibia, India, Canada and the US) may be of interest to Economists; while our readings on the impact of new technologies and artificial intelligence on the future of work and whether a basic income could be a solution, are likely to be on interest to computer scientists and engineers.

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