Philippe Van Parijs

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Philippe Van Parijs
Philippe Van Parijs

(1951-05-23) 23 May 1951 (age 72)
Alma materUC Berkeley
Bielefeld University
Oxford University
Université catholique de Louvain
Saint-Louis University, Brussels
Era20th-century philosophy, 21st-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytical Marxism
InstitutionsNuffield College, Oxford, Université catholique de Louvain, Harvard University
Main interests
Political philosophy, political economy, distributive justice
Notable ideas
Universal basic income, linguistic justice, language tax, real freedom

Philippe Van Parijs (French: [filip vɑ̃ paʁɛjs]; born 23 May 1951) is a Belgian political philosopher and political economist, best known as a proponent and main defender of the concept of an unconditional basic income[2] and for the first systematic treatment of linguistic justice.[3]

In 2020, he was listed by Prospect as the eighth-greatest thinker for the COVID-19 era, with the magazine writing, "Today’s young UBI enthusiasts draw on the books and tap the networks of this Belgian polymath, who championed it before it was fashionable. For decades, he has warned that our proclaimed freedoms to start businesses or raise children count for nothing without the real freedom that comes with a basic income".[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Born 23 May 1951, Philippe Van Parijs completed high school at Collège du Sacré-Cœur de Ganshoren in Brussels. He studied philosophy, law, political economy, sociology and linguistics at the Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles in Brussels, at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) in Louvain-la-Neuve, at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) in Leuven, in Oxford, Bielefeld and California (Berkeley). He holds doctorates in the social sciences (Louvain, 1977) and in philosophy (Oxford, 1980).[5]


He is professor at the Faculty of Economic, Social and Political Sciences of the University of Louvain (UCLouvain), where he directs the Hoover Chair of Economic and Social Ethics since its creation in 1991. He was a visiting professor at Harvard University's Department of Philosophy from 2004 to 2011, and has been a visiting professor at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven since 2006, and a senior research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, since 2011.

Van Parijs has also held visiting positions at the Universities of Amsterdam, Manchester, Siena, Québec (Montréal), Wisconsin (Madison), Maine (Orono) and Aix-Marseille, the European University Institute (Florence), the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Beijing), the Catholic Faculties of Kinshasa (Congo), All Souls College (Oxford), Yale University, Sciences Po (Paris), the Catholic University of Uruguay, the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the École Normale Supérieure (Paris).

He is one of the founders of the Basic Income European Network (BIEN), which was founded in 1986, and which became the Basic Income Earth Network in 2004, and he chairs its International Board.[6] He coordinates the Ethical Forum of the University Foundation. He also coordinates the Pavia Group[7] with Kris Deschouwer and, with Paul De Grauwe, the Re-Bel initiative.[8] He is a member of Belgium's Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts, of the International Institute of Philosophy, and of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts and fellow of the British Academy. In 2001, he was awarded the Francqui Prize, Belgium's most generous scientific prize.[citation needed]

Personal views[edit]

Basic income[edit]

In Real Freedom for All: What (if anything) can justify capitalism?[9] (1995) he argues for both the justice and feasibility of a basic income for every citizen. Van Parijs asserts that it promotes the achievement of a real freedom to make choices. For example, he purports that one cannot really choose to stay at home to raise children or start a business if one cannot afford to. As proposed by Van Parijs, such freedom should be feasible through taxing the scarce, valued social good of jobs, as a form of income redistribution.[10]

Linguistic justice[edit]

Another part of Van Parijs' work is about linguistic justice. In order to address the injustice arising from the privilege enjoyed by English as a global lingua franca,[11] he discusses a wide range of measures such as a language tax[12] which would be paid by English-speaking countries, a ban on the dubbing of films, and the enforcement of a linguistic territoriality principle that would protect weaker languages.[13]

Van Parijs's work is sometimes associated with the September Group of analytic Marxism, though he is not himself a Marxist.

Political proposals[edit]

  • National basic income
  • EU-wide dividend paid by VAT


Philippe Van Parijs in 2018

Van Parijs' books include:

  • Evolutionary Explanation in the Social Sciences (1981)
  • Le Modèle économique et ses rivaux (1990)
  • Qu'est-ce qu'une société juste? (1991)
  • Marxism Recycled (1993)
  • Real Freedom for All (1995)
  • Sauver la solidarité (1995)
  • Refonder la solidarité (1996)
  • Solidariteit voor de XXIste eeuw (1997)
  • Ethique économique et sociale (2000, with C. Arnsperger)
  • What's Wrong with a Free Lunch? (2001)
  • Hacia una concepción de la justicia global (2002)
  • Cultural Diversity versus Economic Solidarity[14] (as editor, 2004)
  • L'Allocation universelle (2005, with Y. Vanderborght)
  • Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World (2011)
  • Just Democracy. The Rawls-Machiaveli Programme (2011)
  • Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy (2017)

Festschrift in honour of Van Parijs:

  • Arguing About Justice: Essays for Philippe Van Parijs (Axel Gosseries & Yannick Vanderborght eds., Presses universitaires de Louvain, 2012) was published on the occasion of his 60th birthday.



  1. ^ Vallentyne, Peter (2014). "Libertarianism". In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University.
  2. ^ "Van Parijs: An unconditional basic income in Europe will help end the crisis". 11 April 2014.
  3. ^ Philippe Van Parijs, Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  4. ^ "The world's top 50 thinkers for the Covid-19 age" (PDF). Prospect. 2020. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  5. ^ "Philippe Van Parijs" Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, at (in English)
  6. ^ "About BIEN | BIEN".
  7. ^ "Groupe Pavia -Groep - Federale kieskring. Circonscription fédérale".
  8. ^ "Re-Bel initiative - Rethinking Belgium's institutions".
  9. ^ Philippe Van Parijs, Real Freedom for All, What (if anything) can justify capitalism: Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995
  10. ^ Bidadanure, Juliana Uhuru (11 May 2019). "The Political Theory of Universal Basic Income". Annual Review of Political Science. 22 (1): 481–501. doi:10.1146/annurev-polisci-050317-070954. ISSN 1094-2939.
  11. ^ "A Lingua Franca as Condition for Global Justice? Philippe Van Parijs on Linguistic Justice". ResearchGate. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  12. ^ Philippe Van Parijs, Europe's three language problems Archived 28 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Multilingualism in Law and Politics
  13. ^ Philippe Van Parijs, Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  14. ^ "UCL - Cultural Diversity versus Economic Solidarity". 20 June 2013. Archived from the original on 20 June 2013.
  15. ^ "WiSE Research Centre - 2nd Ailsa McKay Annual Lecture – Registration Details".

External links[edit]