Gimme that old‐time religion

Critical Review 4 (1-2):74-85 (1990)
Abstract
THE LIBERTARIAN IDEA by Jan Narveson Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988.367 pp., $34.95. Libertarianism is an austerely rigorous account of liberalism, but what justifies it? Troubled by the intuitionistic appeals of many libertarians, Jan Narveson attempts to provide foundations for libertarianism by turning to social contract theory. He argues that parties out to advance whatever goals they have, with their current knowledge and motivations, would converge on typically libertarian positions, including a very strong set of private property rights and no affirmative obligation to come to the aid of others. But his arguments simply fail. Nothing justifies libertarianism; indeed its conceptual structure is oddly reminiscent of that of fundamentalist religion.
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