Abstract: The paper starts by exploring the negative contingencies that are associated with the core institution of capitalist societies, the labour contract: unemployment, poverty, and denial of autonomy. It argues that these are the three conditions that basic income schemes can help prevent. Next, the three major normative arguments are discussed that are raised by opponents of basic income proposals: the idle should not be rewarded, the prosperous don't need it, and there are so many things waiting to be done in the world. After demonstrating that proponents of basic income stand in no way empty-handed when facing these objections, a third part considers basic income in functional terms: would its introduction help to resolve problems of social and economic order that are unlikely to be resolved in more conventional ways? In current German and European debates on long term changes in labor markets, demographics and social policies, the reform project of a basic income and proposals for economic rights of citizens (rather than rights of workers or rights of the poor) have come to the fore. National as well as international network
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