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Milton Friedman on Freedom and the Negative Income Tax


  • Preiss Joshua

    () (Department of Philosophy, Minnesota State University, Armstrong Hall, Mankato, MN 56001, USA)


In addition to his Noble Prize-winning work in economics, Milton Friedman produced some of the most influential philosophical work on the role of government in a free society. Despite his great influence, there remains a dearth of scholarship on Friedman’s social and political philosophy. This paper helps to fill this large void by providing a conceptual analysis of Friedman’s theory of freedom. In addition, I argue that a careful reading of his arguments for freedom ought to lead Friedman, and like-minded liberals and libertarians, to give absolute priority to his negative income tax proposal. A substantial basic income furthers effective economic freedom (on Friedman’s own understanding), redeems his central claim that markets enable cooperation without coercion, and enables him to address his lifelong interlocutors by mitigating concerns for the ways in which economic dependence and inequality undermine both freedom and democratic legitimacy.

Suggested Citation

  • Preiss Joshua, 2015. "Milton Friedman on Freedom and the Negative Income Tax," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 169-191, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bistud:v:10:y:2015:i:2:p:169-191:n:3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Philip Pettit, 2006. "Freedom in the market," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 5(2), pages 131-149, June.
    2. Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "The Top 1 Percent in International and Historical Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 3-20, Summer.
    3. Preiss, Joshua, 2014. "Global Labor Justice and the Limits of Economic Analysis," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(01), pages 55-83, January.
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