Pragmatic inclusion for a democratic society: William James' social ethics and the justification of basic income

Little, Nathan (2019) Pragmatic inclusion for a democratic society: William James' social ethics and the justification of basic income. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The most influential and dominant philosophical justification for basic income is Philippe Van Parijs’ “real freedom for all,” a classical-liberal argument premised on individual freedom. My thesis identifies and critiques problems in “real freedom for all,” namely its abstract ideological foundation, limited conception of the self, and narrow understanding of valuable activity. As a superior justification of basic income, I propose William James’ social ethics: it uses listening, experimentation, and revision as foundations for ethics; it acknowledges the personal, social, and cultural forces in selfhood; and it recognizes that all activity is valuable in the creation and maintenance of cultural norms and habits. I argue that the best justification for basic income is “pragmatic inclusion for an ethical democracy,” in which basic income is an example of pragmatic inclusion that creates the conditions for an ethical democracy, wherein everyone has access to the decision-making processes that form a culture.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 14353
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 121-127).
Keywords: William James, Philippe Van Parijs, basic income, Pragmatism, Classical Liberalism, freedom, inclusion, individualism, social ethics, economic morality, democracy
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: August 2019
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: James, William, 1842-1910--Teachings; Basic income--Moral and ethical aspects.

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