For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"A Hayekian Case for Free Markets and a Basic Income"

by Zwolinski, Matt (2019)


Friedrich Hayek is known for his defense of limited government and a free-market economy. But Hayek was also a consistent defender throughout his life of something that looks very much like a Universal Basic Income (UBI). To many, this combination of views will seem paradoxical. The purpose of this paper is to argue that both of these commitments flow naturally from Hayek’s fundamental commitment to individual liberty, understood as the absence of coercion. The paper examines Hayek’s theory of freedom, classifying it as a kind of neo-republican theory concerned with minimizing domination. It then shows how such a commitment to freedom supports both Hayek’s classical liberal commitment to free markets and limited government, and the provision of an “equal minimum for all.” Finally, the paper addresses the question of whether state benefits should be conditioned on work, or willingness to work. Hayek seems to have thought that it should, but there are resources within Hayek’s own thought, I argue, which strongly suggest that it shouldn't.


Basic Income, Friedrich Hayek, Libertarianism, Coercion, Liberty, Republicanism


Universal Basic Income

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