Are capabilities just recipient-oriented? An argument in favour of the capability to work, and of the UBI to protect it
Keywords:Capability, Unconditional Basic Income, Work, Justice, Robustness
Under the capability approach, a theory of justice should be capability-based. However, it has been noted that ‘capabilitarian’ theories are solely recipient-oriented. This discrepancy could be solved by people having access to the capabilities for a good life, provided that they contribute by sharing the burdens of cooperation. Nevertheless, the obligation to contribute is liable to come into conflict with the very notion of ‘capability’.
This paper proposes a solution to address this apparent conflict. Since a person’s capabilities for a good life are conditional on her obligation to contribute, the key to ensuring the robustness of such capabilities is to make sure that the capability to work, on which they rely, is itself sufficiently robust. In this sense, it is argued, on the one hand, that the best way to reinforce the robustness of the capability to work is to distribute it through unconditional access to work that meets a minimum threshold of decency. On the other hand, it is argued that the most effective policy to this end results from the combination of employment guarantee policies with an unconditional basic income (UBI).
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