David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Etica E Politica 5 (2):1-14 (2003)
This essay addresses the on-going controversy between supporters of minimal government, or minarchists, and supporters of no government, or anarchists. Both lay claim to the Libertarian principle, which holds that the only justification for the use of force is to deal with aggressive force initiated by someone else. Both agree that force is justified in dealing with aggressors. The only question is, who wields it, and how? The essay explains, briefly, the role of private property in all this. Private property is really just the operation of the liberty principle in the area of the use of things outside ourselves: those who initiate use of such things will have their activities subject to continual invasion unless property is recognized, and so property is the natural outcome of liberty, taken seriously. But the trouble is, states are monopolies, and maintain themselves at public expense, by taxation. This inevitably means interference with private property rights. And so, if we deal with aggressors via the state, we turn into partial aggressors ourselves, it seems. The essay points out that and why both minarchism and anarchism are virtually impossible in contemporary circumstances, but at the level of basic theory, at any rate, the anarchist appears to have the better of it
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