Libertarianism and Basic-Income Guarantee: Friends or Foes?



Abstract: The Basic-Income Guarantee is a governmental programme of income redistribution that enjoys an increasing predicament among academic and political circles. Traditionally, the philosophical defence for this programme has been articulated from the standpoint of social liberalism, republicanism, or communism. Recently, however, libertarian philosopher Matt Zwolinski also tried to reconcile the Basic-Income Guarantee scheme with libertarian ethics. To do so, he resorted to the Lockean proviso: to the extent that the institutionalization of private property impoverishes certain people by depriving their access to natural resources, these people deserve compensation and the most pragmatic way of providing this is through a Basic-Income Guarantee. This paper examines Zwolinski’s arguments and responds by demonstrating that the Basic-Income Guarantee is incompatible with libertarian ethics: the current levels of poverty are not caused by the institutionalization of private property and the Basic-Income Guarantee does not constitute a pragmatic approach to eradicate poverty.