What are libertarian open borders advocates even advocating for? Is it, as the title to Michael Huemer’s influential essay suggests, a prima facie “right to immigrate”? Or is it, as the branding connotes, literal open borders, or a strong prima facie moral right to free movement across borders that entails a right to immigrate? In this paper, I peel apart the view that people have a strong moral right to freely cross international borders, or "open access," from the view that (...) non-citizens have a right to immigrate, which I will call "open residence." As radical as open residence is, open access is even more extreme; so whether open borders ideology commits one to open access matters to its plausibility. At times it can seem that libertarian open borders advocates, by emphasizing our prima facie right to free movement, call for open access. Nonetheless, I suggest that libertarian open borders advocates should content themselves with mere open residence, even though open residence is compatible with tight border controls and even border walls—policies which they might (rightly or wrongly) object to for independent reasons. (shrink)
I respond to Dan Lowe’s charge that libertarianism, or the most defensible version, involves an unacceptable “asymmetry of value.” I argue that there is an inconsistency between Lowe’s approach to counterexamples and his eventual objection.
I present a diversity of theories of freedom which I compare and contrast. I begin with a brief summary of my own recently published theory, which I show to be superior to the other theories considered. I find that there are various weaknesses or errors in the other theories and that my own theory is the only one that gives an adequate explanation of why freedom, or a free society, is desirable.
A -/- abortion and infanticide/ academic freedom/ academics/ action/ act-omission doctrine/ addiction and dependence/ adoption/ advertising/ affirmative action/ age of consent/ age of criminal responsibility/ age of majority/ agent/ aggression/ agriculture/ aid, foreign/ AIDS/ air/ akrasia/ allies/ altruism/ American Civil War (1861-1865)/ American exceptionalism/ American War of Independence (1775–1783)/ anarchic social order/ anarcho-capitalism/ anarchy/ animal rights/ animal welfare/ apartheid/ apathy/ appeasement/ apriorism/ aristocracy/ arms trade/ arms race/ artificial intelligence/ arts and sciences/ assassination/ asset stripping/ asylum seekers/ atomism, social/ Austrian School (...) of economics/ authoritarianism/ authority/ autonomy, intellectual/ axis/ -/- B -/- balance of trade/ balance of power (international)/ banking/ bankruptcy, insolvency, and limited liability/ barriers to entry/ begging/ belief/ betting/ big business/ bigotry/ biodiversity/ bioethics/ black market/ blackmail/ blasphemy/ booms and slumps/ borders, political/ boxing and dangerous sports/ boycott/ bribery/ British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)/ BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy)/ bureaucracy/ business cycles/ . (shrink)
The reply begins by stating that responses to reviews of EfL are “taking criticism of their philosophical claims as personal attacks” and resorting to “hysterical ad hominems”. On the contrary, the responses to around fourteen—often highly positive—reviews have welcomed all their criticisms and simply replied to them. None of these replies appear to commit the ad hominem (to the man) fallacy: that of addressing the qualities of a person as a way of attempting to undermine or defend an argument or (...) assertion made by that person. (shrink)
The review cites the “Open Society” twice in its title—and is clearly pro-Popperian—but then fails to mention the fourteen-point list, and surrounding discussion, that explicitly compares Popper’s critical rationalism with anarcho-libertarianism (strong similarities) and liberal democracy (strong dissimilarities); EfL, pp.135-142. If the review had engaged more closely with the arguments of EfL and been more informed by the relevant social scientific literature, then it would probably have found the anarcho-libertarian case to be far more robust and realistic than such a (...) cursory dismissal can hope to refute. (shrink)
Despite receiving high praise from Professors Barry, Narveson, Flew, and Gray (see the first page of the paperback), the Saladin Meckled-Garcia review (M-G) puts the level of Escape from Leviathan (EFL) as “undergraduate” and rates it one star. While undergraduates may profit from reading EFL, it is not mainly at their level. M-G either applies unusually high standards of philosophical argumentation or is simply philosophically perplexed.
It is possible to pose many difficult and fascinating problems and criticisms for the various theses and arguments in Escape from Leviathan (EfL). This occurred while writing it, and various sharp minds did it on reading drafts or the final product. However, some reviews misunderstand, or ignore, what is written and reassert conventional views. But it is best to answer all published criticisms if only to show how they fail, lest anyone thinks they are sound, and even poor criticisms can (...) sometimes elicit elucidation. Thus, we now turn to the review. (shrink)
Despite receiving high praise from Professors Barry, Narveson, Flew, and Gray (see the first page of the paperback), the review puts the level of Escape from Leviathan (EfL) as “undergraduate” and rates it one star. While undergraduates may profit from reading EfL, it is not mainly at their level. Norman Barry specifically warns “this book is not to be recommended to beginners”. The review either applies unusually high standards of philosophical argumentation or is simply philosophically perplexed.
Escape from Leviathan (EfL) is a first attempt at explaining a somewhat complex philosophical theory of libertarianism. The theory is far from being as clear as it has subsequently become possible to make it. Consequently, most reviews have misunderstood it to varying degrees. What is striking is the great confidence with which some of these reviews assume they have completely understood it and refuted it. This is odd because it does not seem entirely reasonable to suppose that EfL’s errors are (...) quite as obvious and naïve as the reviews often assume. And only a slightly more careful reading of the text might have disabused them of their misapprehensions. With the article about to be discussed, we have another clear example of this phenomenon. But what is particularly interesting about it is that it does not itself fully understand the basic conception of liberty that most libertarians assume. And as this is, strangely, not that uncommon even among libertarian philosophers, it is certainly worth responding to as clearly as possible. (shrink)
Libertarianism—and classical liberalism generally—entails (or presupposes) a specific, but implicit, conception of liberty. Imagine two lists of property-rights: one list is all those that currently appear to be libertarian (self-ownership, property acquired by use of natural resources, property acquired by consensual exchange, etc.); the other list is all those that currently appear not to be libertarian (aggressively imposed slavery, property acquired by theft or fraud, property acquired by coerced transfers due to welfare claims, etc.). What determines into which list a (...) property-right is to be assigned? If libertarianism is really about liberty, then the determining factor must be whether the property-right somehow fits what liberty is in a more abstract sense than property. It greatly clarifies matters to have an explicit theory of this entailed conception of abstract liberty and how it relates to its practical application and to morality. (shrink)
“Critical-Rationalist Libertarianism” (CRL) was replied to in “Libertarianism Without Argument” (the reply). Various points in that text are here given responses. Both critical rationalism and how it applies to libertarianism are elucidated and elaborated. This response will proceed by quoting the reply where relevant (virtually all of it) and then responding immediately after the quotations, following the order of the reply’s very brief “critique” (605 words).
The central classical liberal insight is that private property appears both to protect personal liberty and to promote general productivity. By way of philosophically clarifying this insight, Escape from Leviathan (EfL) posits the extreme classical liberal, or libertarian, Compatibility Thesis: there is no long-term, systemic, practical conflict among economic rationality, interpersonal liberty, human welfare, and private-property anarchy (i.e., four plausible and relevant theories of these that are presupposed, or entailed, by libertarianism and consonant social science). The review (Liberty, November 2002) (...) holds that this extreme version is probably false and suggests that perhaps even EfL’s author would agree. He (still) does not, although he remains open to argument. But what anyone happens to believe at any particular moment is a piece of fleeting biography that is irrelevant to the truth of the thesis or the soundness of the arguments in EfL. (shrink)
Contra critical rationalism, the response begins by referring to “the variety of internalist and externalist versions of foundationalism” (Liberty, December 2002). But it makes no attempt to explain or defend any of them. Hence, no further criticism is due here. The response then argues that, “The critical rationalist method seems to suggest that Lester’s extreme compatibility thesis is probably false” because—quoting Escape from Leviathan (EfL)—“bold universal theories might be false, and probably are” and yet “he doesn’t think the thesis is (...) probably false”. And so this is, by implication, an inconsistent belief. But the Compatibility Thesis (CT) is not one of the “bold universal theories” of science. The review and the response appear, at times, to assume that the CT is a bold universal theory about the perfect compatibility of applying the relevant conceptions, or theories, of rationality, liberty, welfare, and anarchy. Then, at other times, they assert that it is not bold at all but merely about definitions designed to be compatible. In fact, the CT asserts both that there are no theoretical incompatibilities among relevant and plausible versions of the theories, and that there are no actual long-term, systemic, and practical conflicts among applying them. That is still a bold theory (perhaps even most libertarians would disagree with it), but it’s not a universal thesis of perfect compatibility. And if it were good practice to reject a theory just because of its boldness, then all scientific theories would be immediately rejected without even trying to produce a falsification. In any case, as stated in the reply to the review, anyone’s mere beliefs are irrelevant to the truth of objective theories and the soundness of objective arguments. (shrink)
This essay goes through Frederick 2015 (the critique) in some detail, responding to the various paraphrases and criticisms therein. It is argued that in each case the critique is mistaken about what Lester 2012 (Escape from Leviathan: EfL) says, or about what the critique presents as a sound criticism, or both. Introduction: the three problems with the critique and the philosophical problem that EfL is attempting to solve. “Abstract”: the critique’s confusion about EfL’s aprioristic theory of instrumental rationality. There are (...) then detailed replies (too many and too diverse to summarise) to quotations from the critique’s confused interpretations and criticisms under the following headings (quoted from the critique): “2. Instrumental Rationality”; 3. Weakness of Will”; “4. Desires and Values”; “5. Free Will”; “6. Self-Interest”; “7. Maximisation”; “8. Morals”. Finally, in “9. Conclusion”, the philosophical problem for economics is briefly restated. The philosophical interpretation of homo economicus in EfL (as with its overall philosophical theory of libertarianism) has yet to be given adequate critical consideration. (shrink)
I thank Professor Otteson for his review of Escape from Leviathan (EfL). His exposition of what I wrote is relatively accurate. I shall here do my best to correct any misunderstandings and reply to his welcome criticisms, ignoring our various points of agreement and his generous praise.
The Julius Blumfeld review (the review) of Escape from Leviathan (EfL) includes various kind words and especially welcome criticisms. This reply attempts to respond to the criticisms as best as it can. There have been further replies to criticisms, additional articles, and even books clarifying and developing this overall philosophical theory of libertarianism in the time that has elapsed since the first version of this reply. Consequently, it is now possible to revise it to make it somewhat clearer.
This is an attempt to clarify the nature of extreme, or complete, “wokeness” in its modern sense. The central thesis is that it is an inverted form of fascism, and thereby even worse than some of its critics assume. In fact, it is far worse than ordinary fascism whether or not it is correct to see it as an inverted form. As this is a thesis, it is not a definition. Therefore, this thesis could certainly be mistaken. But if it (...) is, then sound criticisms of the explanation would be needed to refute it. (shrink)
As someone who wishes Escape from Leviathan (EfL) to succeed, I am grateful for a review with such high praise from a well-known classical liberal. As a critical rationalist who also wishes to learn from his mistakes, I am also grateful for Norman Barry’s criticisms. The only way that I can hope to try to repay these and appreciate their full force is by doing my best to reply to them.
Until quite recently, it has appeared that eleutheric-conjectural libertarianism (ECL) could not avoid some degree of, very broad, interpersonal utility comparisons (IUCs). And this has been objected to by some of its libertarian critics, notably economists and propertarians. Indeed, this aspect does make the theory less compatible with economics than the rest of the theory and it is thereby a significant problem. This is because one of the main problems that ECL is intended to solve is how an abstract theory (...) of liberty can be compatible with the pro-free-market conclusions of many economists. Being more compatible with economics should make ECL theory more comprehensive, comprehensible, and cogent. (shrink)
The following essay responds to a draft article that criticises the theory of libertarian restitution in “Libertarian Rectification: Restitution, Retribution, and the Risk-Multiplier” (LR). The article was freely available to internet search engines. Hence, it seems fair and useful to reply to these very welcome objective criticisms. It is not intellectually relevant that its author might subsequently and subjectively have thought better of them, possibly as a result of the earlier version of this reply. Generally, the article misconstrues the position (...) on retribution in LR. Eventually, it makes apparent qualifications to its own position such that there does not seem to be any clear theoretical difference between the two on the central disputed issue. LR’s position is to explain and defend only the non-normative theory of libertarian restitution: full restoration or compensation to the damaged (initiatedly imposed on) party. But it is argued that this can include a retributive aspect if that is what the victim prefers. Moreover, such restitution will tend to act as a deterrent that maximises both overall interpersonal liberty (theorised as no initiated imposed costs) and human welfare (theorised as preference satisfaction). (shrink)
Primarily using philosophy, but also some social science, Escape from Leviathan (EfL) explains and defends what it calls an extreme version of the implicit ‘classical liberal compatibility thesis’: liberty, welfare, and anarchy are overwhelmingly complementary in normal practice (rationality is added for its intimate theoretical connections to these categories). This is done using theories, not definitions, of each concept. This important thesis is entirely positive. Therefore, somewhat unusually, all normative issues are avoided as irrelevant distractions in this context. In addition, (...) the epistemology used is also unorthodox. A justificationist, or foundationalist, approach would be literally illogical: the self-refuting trilemma faced by ‘supporting justifications’ (as regards arguments and evidence) is of entailing infinite regresses, dogmatic starting points, or circularities. Consequently, critical rationalism is assumed: conjecture and criticism are all that is possible. Thus all aspects of the conjectured thesis are explained and defended from criticism as thoroughly as the book can encompass. It is concluded that the thesis has not been refuted and so may be critically preferred. (However, this could all still be viewed as a ‘justification’ by those thus inclined.) All of this is made clear enough in the short introductory chapter and repeated where relevant throughout. Yet some reviews do not have a firm grasp of the specific project and so reject it with unsound criticisms. We now turn to one such example. (shrink)
As the use of nudges by governmental agencies becomes more common, the need for normative guidelines regarding the processes by which decisions about the implementation of specific nudges are taken becomes more acute. In order to find a justified set of such guidelines one must meet several theoretical challenges to Libertarian Paternalism that arise at the foundational level. In this paper, I identify three central challenges to Libertarian Paternalism, and suggest that Susan Hurley's political philosophy as presented in her Natural (...) Reasons (1989) can be viewed as offering powerful responses to them. (shrink)
Libertarian self-ownership views in the tradition of Locke, Nozick, and the left-libertarians have supposed that we enjoy very powerful deontological protections against infringing upon our property. Such a conception makes sense when we are focused on property that is very important to its owner, such as a person’s kidney. However, this stringency of our property rights is harder to credit when we consider more trivial infringements such as very mildly toxic pollution or trivial risks such having planes fly overhead. Maintaining (...) that our rights against all infringements are very powerful threatens to implausibly make such pollution and trivial risk broadly impermissible. This paper suggests that self-ownership views have tended to inappropriately conflate the seriousness of different types of infringements and that treating all infringements so seriously is implausible because it would make too much impermissible. I consider several ways to avoid this result within a self-ownership framework and conclude that the best approach is to allow that the strength of the protection against infringements should be tied to the seriousness of the harm of the infringement. (shrink)
Efficiency requires legislative political institutions. There are many ways efficiency can be promoted, and so an ongoing legislative institution is necessary to resolve this choice in a politically sustainable and economically flexible way. This poses serious problems for classical liberal proposals to constitutionally protect markets from government intervention, as seen in the work of Ilya Somin, Guido Pincione & Fernando Tesón and others. The argument for the political nature of efficiency is set out in terms of both Pareto optimality and (...) aggregate welfare maximisation, and similar arguments can be generalised to other social values. (shrink)
According to the standard story, there are two defensible theories of property rights: historical and institutional theories. The former says that you own something when you’ve received it via an unbroken chain of just transfers from its original appropriation. The latter says that you own something when you’ve been assigned it by just institutions. This standard story says that the historical theory throws up a barrier to redistributive economic policies while the institutional theory does not. In this paper, I argue (...) that the standard story is wrong in almost every detail. For a start, neither of these theories are defensible. Both generate absurd consequences when combined with our non-ideal circumstances. In actuality, no unbroken chains of just transfers stretch from original appropriation to what we now possess. And our actual institutions are very seriously unjust. So both theories imply that we actually own almost nothing. I revise these theories so that they avoid this absurd consequence. Yet, when we do this, their distributive implications flip. The institutional theory throws up serious barriers to redistribution while the historical theory tears them down. In our non-ideal circumstances, the distributive implications of these theories are the opposite of what is standardly presumed. (shrink)
When is it legitimate for a government to ‘nudge’ its citizens, in the sense described by Thaler and Sunstein (2008)? In their original work on the topic, Thaler and Sunstein developed the _‘as judged by themselves’ (or AJBT) test_ to answer this question (Thaler and Sunstein 2008, p. 5). In a recent paper, Paul and Sunstein (2019) raised a concern about this test: it often seems to give the wrong answer in cases in which we are nudged to make a (...) decision that leads to what Paul calls a _personally transformative experience_, that is, one that results in our values changing (Paul 2014). In those cases, the nudgee will judge the nudge to be legitimate after it has taken place, but only because their values have changed as a result of the nudge. In this paper, I take up the challenge of finding an alternative test. I draw on my _aggregate utility account_ of how to choose in the face of what Ullmann-Margalit (2006) calls _big decisions_, that is, decisions that lead to these personally transformative experiences (Pettigrew 2019, Chapters 6 and 7). (shrink)
Libertarians often emphasize courts’ potential to alleviate pollution problems without the need for legislation and regulation. However, this chapter argues courts cannot completely replace these other tools. Because of the historical conditions in which pollution law develops, we should expect courts in industrial societies to initially develop legal standards that deliver limited protection against many common pollution threats. As societies grow wealthier and citizens begin favoring stricter defenses against pollution, courts honoring longstanding precedents will struggle to keep pace with changing (...) priorities. Because legislators and regulators are authorized to create and alter laws deliberately in a way judges are not, they can perform an essential function by updating legal standards amidst changing circumstances. Libertarianism stands the best chance of addressing the challenges pollution creates by allowing each branch of the liberal division of powers to perform its role, not by substituting the judiciary for all other branches. (shrink)
Why do corporations and wealthy philanthropists fund the human sciences? Examining the history of the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), a private research institute founded in the early 1980s, this article shows that funders can find as much value in the social worlds of the sciences they sponsor as in their ideas. SFI became increasingly dependent on funding from corporations and libertarian business leaders in the 1990s and 2000s. At the same time, its intellectual work came to focus on the underlying (...) principles of adaptation, innovation, and decentralized coordination supposedly at work in ‘complex systems’ from biological ecosystems to markets and firms. This research cast the ideas of the libertarian economist Friedrich Hayek into a new scientific idiom. SFI also became a space where figures in business, media, academia, and politics could come to learn to see the world in a particular way—to acquire the subjectivity of what I call ‘the Santa Fe Institute libertarian’. At SFI, visitors did not simply learn the principles of neo-Hayekian complex system science. They came to see themselves as agents of social evolution, providing the spark that the free-market system needed to produce new technologies and new solutions to social problems without top-down political direction. For the Institute's corporate and libertarian financiers, SFI was not just a space where intellectuals described the world in favored ideological terms, but a space where elite actors became committed to the project of making a new political-economic order. (shrink)
Libertarians are defenders of the free market. On their view, only the free market is compatible with the freedom of each individual to lead her own life according to her own choices. In a book and a series of articles, Serena Olsaretti argues that libertarians are wrong to believe that their commitment to individual freedom justifies the free market. According to her, libertarians rely on a problematic account of voluntary action. As part of her argument, Olsaretti develops her own account (...) of voluntary action. I offer two criticisms of Olsaretti’s argument. First, I argue that accepting her account of voluntary action does not compel libertarians to alter their position in the way that she claims. Second, I argue that her account of voluntary action has unwelcome implications by her own lights. (shrink)
We explain libertarian thought about family and children, including controversial issues in need of serious attention. To begin our discussion of marriage, we distinguish between procedural and substantive contractarian approaches to marriage, each endorsed by various libertarians. Advocates of both approaches agree that it is a contract that makes a marriage, not a license, but disagree about whether there are moral limits to the substance of the contract with only advocates of the substantive approach accepting such. Either approach, though, offers (...) advantages over the current licensing system, so we discuss paths from that to a contractarian system. We also discuss the concept of marriage itself, the ages of consent for marriage, sexual activity, and reproduction, as well as how marriages can be dissolved, and coercion that sometimes occurs in marriage. We then turn to children. We first discuss reproductive freedom and then discuss the moral relationship between children and parents, especially considering stewardship, propertarian, and best interests approaches (we also touch on anti-natalism). One of the biggest issues facing parents is how to properly raise and educate children; we discuss this in depth and consider the sort of schooling that should be offered in a free society. Since children lack the requisite ability to consent, they cannot choose their education; how to respond to this is of the utmost importance for libertarians. As we note, the same issue of consent looms large for many forms medical treatment of children. (shrink)
Diversas fuentes culturales explican los orígenes del marcado individualismo imperante en nuestras sociedades actuales. Posiblemente, una de las manifestaciones más aclamadas de este individualismo sea la primacía de la autonomía individual, elemento clave en la articulación y fundamentación de las posiciones jurídicas subjetivas presentes en la práctica totalidad de los ordenamientos jurídicos contemporáneos, y como resultado de la expansión de la cultura occidental. Sin embargo, en ocasiones, el peso otorgado a la autonomía se antoja desproporcionado, especialmente cuando conduce a la (...) inobservancia, ya sea total o parcial, del bien común o alguna de sus manifestaciones, presupuesto de toda relación social y exigencia del principio de justicia. Junto a la autonomía, en tanto que elemento necesario para el florecimiento individual, la búsqueda del bien común debe asimismo servir a la configuración de los diversos instrumentos de decisión política y jurídica que regulan la vida en común, lo que requiere el justo equilibrio de los intereses en juego, tal y como aconseja el principio de proporcionalidad. El paradigma de las enfermedades contagiosas proporciona un claro ejemplo de lo anterior, pues la protección de la salud pública, entendida como una manifestación del bien común, no solo justifica, sino que incluso exige la restricción de ciertas posiciones jurídicas subjetivas que sirven a la especificación de la autonomía individual de sus titulares. (shrink)
We are all so used to the terms "left," "right," "liberal," and "conservative" that we hear and use them without a second thought as to their meaning. Politics is the debate over how government and society should be structured and how social institutions should function and to what ends. The political conflict over these issues is often described in terms of the "Left" versus the "Right," but there is a definite lack of adequate examination of what Left and Right mean. (...) In this book, Douglas Giles clarifies the meaning of the terms "Left" and "Right" and the left-right political spectrum in a way that helps us better understand political and social conflicts. Politics is complex, and many political conflicts have considerable effects on our lives. We deserve and need a deeper understanding of politics and political action, and we can help accomplish this by being clearer about what the terms "Left" and "Right" signify. (shrink)
The two purposes of this essay. The general philosophical problem with most versions of social libertarianism and how this essay will proceed. The specific problem with liberty explained by a thought-experiment. The positive and abstract theory of interpersonal liberty-in-itself as ‘the absence of interpersonal initiated constraints on want-satisfaction’, for short ‘no initiated impositions’. The individualistic liberty-maximisation theory solves the problems of clashes, defences, and rectifications without entailing interpersonal utility comparisons or libertarian consequentialism. The practical implications of instantiating liberty: three rules (...) of liberty-in-practice, 1) initial ultimate control of one’s body, 2) initial ultimate control of one’s used resources, 3) consensual interpersonal interactions and resource transfers. These rules are economically efficient and maximise general want-satisfaction. Private property and legal remedies are additional practical institutional aspects, but to which ‘initiated impositions’ then apply prima facie. Libertarian law is often mistaken for complete libertarianism. Moral explanations are a separate issue. The three main moral theories imply libertarianism, but it can be morally posited independently of them. Critical rationalism and its application. No empirical or argumentative support for theories. An important ambiguity with ‘justification’. How the epistemology applies to the theory of liberty and its application but remains separable in principle. Conclusion: there are further published explanations but this should be enough to generate useful criticism. Appendix replying to some typical comments. (shrink)
Libertarianism is a theory of justice that places significant moral weight on exclusive property rights. On this basis, many libertarian philosophers, from Robert Nozick to Michael Huemer, criticize any form of income redistribution. Ironically, some libertarians, following Philippe Van Parijs, Matt Zwolinski, and Charles Murray, have supported the introduction of an unconditional basic income. This essay seeks to prove that this support is not just a political compromise. By contrast, libertarian justice advocates have a strong moral basis for supporting income (...) redistribution in the form of unconditional cash payments. This essay explores one such reason, the Lockean proviso. The Lockean proviso is a moral requirement for the appropriation of unowned resources to leave “enough and as good” for others. There are many interpretations of the Lockean proviso, but the most ambitious are the egalitarian proviso and the sufficiency proviso. Each of them, but for different reasons, requires the introduction of a basic income. The egalitarian proviso establishes the equal rights of all people to natural resources, and therefore requires that all benefits from the ownership of natural resources be shared egalitarianly — in the form of unconditional equal payments. The sufficiency proviso establishes some threshold of sufficiency, and then imposes a restriction on exclusive property rights so that they can’t prevent redistribution in order to raise all people to the threshold of sufficiency. However, while both provisos require a basic income, they diverge on three important dimensions in assessing this basic income: applicability, taxable base, and amount of cash payments. (shrink)
Although libertarianism is often regarded as “weak” on environmental issues, the truth is more complicated. Because of its commitment to defending private property rights, libertarianism actually lends itself to aggressive protections against pollution—to the point where an interpretive challenge arises in establishing how to reconcile it with any pollution at all. To meet this challenge, libertarians must explicate how societies should delimit and allocate rights over the environment and identify who will be responsible for making these determinations. The most ideologically (...) salient libertarian paths to addressing these questions demand heavy lifting from courts in adjudicating conflicting claims. However, there are reasons to doubt that courts would be up to this task. Libertarians might thus be well-advised to embrace a role for government administration in regulating environmental impacts. Although this would depart from the role libertarians have traditionally ascribed to governments, it would align in spirit with familiar libertarian arguments for government provision of policing, courts, and national defense. Libertarianism so understood would resemble more mainstream views on the environment, though with a stricter emphasis on the protection of individual rights. Libertarians thus have fewer deep disagreements with environmentalists than is generally appreciated. To the extent these disagreements exist, they revolve specifically around the use of state coercion to protect the environment for reasons other than defending rights. Although environmentalists generally approve of such coercion, libertarianism opposes it as a matter of principle. Whether this is so much the worse for libertarianism or environmentalism is ultimately for the reader to decide. (shrink)
American sociologist Robert Nisbet once described conservatives and libertarians as “uneasy cousins.” The description is apt. While sharing a family resemblance and many of the same political rivals, conservatism and libertarianism are fundamentally at odds. This paper explains why this is so from the conservative perspective. It surveys the starting points and major themes of conservatism and libertarianism. It identifies what conservatives and libertarians agree about. It concludes by showing what conservatives have against libertarianism.
Lockeans regard taxation as a—perhaps sometimes permissible—infringement of moral property entitlements. This essay discusses whether, or in what form, this charge is defensible. In doing so, it will explore the truth and the limits of the conventionalist reply of Murphy and Nagel to Lockean challenges to taxation. It argues that there is a moral rationale for property conventions that is independent of the question whether and how one can acquire natural, pre-conventional property rights in the state of nature, that this (...) rationale sets a moral standard for how good property conventions are and whether they are justifiable at all, and that once property conventions are in place, people’s moral property entitlements are at least partly determined by these conventions, sometimes even by unjustifiable ones that ought to be reformed. Because taxation can be a part of property conventions, taxation as such is not an infringement of moral property entitlements. But the essay will also argue that some taxation—excessive taxation—does infringe on moral property entitlements. This is because the moral rationale for property conventions sets some standards for what owners should be entitled to, and so excessive taxation will infringe upon moral entitlements that are partly not convention-based. (shrink)
This handbook is the first definitive reference on libertarianism that offers an in-depth survey of the central ideas from across philosophy, politics and economics, including applications to contemporary policy issues.
To explain the correct libertarian approach to immigration, a thought-experiment posits a minimal-state libertarian UK and then the introduction of several relevant anti-libertarian policies with their increasingly disastrous effects. It is argued that the reverse of these imagined policies, as far as is politically possible, must be the correct way forward. This framing is intended to counter the tendency for many articles to misapply libertarian principles to the current messy situation on the mistaken assumption that a state need only stop (...) interfering without rectifying or adjusting for its previous interferences. The relevant parts of various open-border texts are then criticised in light of this and for other errors, in particular for overlooking the likely huge scale of immigration as indicated by Gallup surveys. Additional criticisms are addressed in footnotes throughout. The conclusion outlines three broad options on immigration and suggests that directionally-libertarian policies are both more libertarian and practical than having states open their borders. The readers that might be interested in this subject matter include those engaging in libertarian philosophy, economics, and political theory. (shrink)
This replies to Block 2019 (B19), which responds to Lester 2014 (L14). The main issues in the, varyingly sized, sections are as follows. 1 Further explanations of critical rationalism, the theory of liberty, and problems with the non-aggression principle. 2.1 The relationships among law, morality, and libertarianism. 2.2 The objective invasiveness of low-level radiation and that it is therefore an initiated imposition (albeit trivial) if someone inflicts it on non-consenting people. 2.3 The objective and subjective aspects of initiated impositions; and (...) how clashes can be resolved. 2.4 How liberty relates to risk and self-ownership. 2.5 Libertarian initial acquisition versus absolute property rights by labour-mixing. 2.6 Organisational note. 2.7 Libertarianism and mens rea. 2.8 Libertarian rectification versus lex-talionis doubling. 2.9 Indirectly clashing rights, self-preservation, trespasser-hiker, flagpole-grasper, and landmine-layer. 2.10 A logical point is not a moral point. 2.11 Pacifism and libertarianism. 3.1 A weak criticism of utilitarianism. 3.2 Hedonometers; approximate interpersonal comparisons of utility imply libertarianism; what a libertarian is; libertarian rankings. 4. Libertarian philosophy versus propertarian dogma. Coda: the need to take seriously the philosophical problems with propertarian-justificationist libertarianism. (shrink)
1. First there is an outline of the libertarian approach taken here. 2. On the assumption of personhood, it is explained how there need be no overall inflicted harm and no proactive killing with abortion and infanticide. This starts with an attached-adult analogy and transitions to dealing directly with the issues. Various well-known criticisms are answered throughout. 3. There is then a more-abstract explanation of how it is paradoxical to assume a duty to do more than avoid inflicting overall harm (...) and, instead, positively benefit. A putative counterexample is explained away. 4. A positive theory of intellectual personhood is defended in principle, but not made precise, which is sufficient to be practical. The greater moral value of intellectual-personhood is defended. An important putative reductio of the potential-personhood argument is refuted. 5. Several further criticisms that apply to both types of defences are answered. 6. Conclusion. (shrink)
Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski argue in recent work that “semiotic” or “symbolic” objections to markets are unsuccessful. I counter-argue that there are indeed some semiotic limits on markets and that anti-commodification theorists are not merely expressing disgust when they disapprove of markets in certain goods on those grounds. One central argument is that, contrary to what Brennan and Jaworski claim, semiotic arguments against markets do not depend fundamentally on meanings that prevail about markets. Rather, they depend on the meanings (...) that attach to various goods, meanings that give us moral bases on which to make judgments about their prospective commodification. (shrink)
The core idea of libertarianism, considered as a basic moral theory, is that people have certain negative rights and that those rights determine morally right action. Libertarianism is supposed to provide robust explanations to some of our intuitions, such as that it is wrong to steal, kill, rape or enslave other people. However, its exclusive focus on negative rights (i.e., rights to non-interference) makes it incapable of explaining some other intuitions, such as that the utterly rich should help the utterly (...) poor. Although libertarianism can explain why we should never do bad to others, it cannot explain why we should sometimes do good to others. For this reason, libertarianism is not satisfactory as it stands. A natural suggestion, therefore, is that we should either abandon libertarianism in favor of some of its better faring rivals, or revise the theory in order to get rid of the features that make it unsatisfactory. This paper proposes a new libertarian theory of morality: a theory that endorses a utilitarian proviso for use of external resources. I call this theory mid-libertarianism. The basic idea of mid-libertarianism is that individuals are free to do as they want as long as they do not violate the rights of others, given that they maximize utility whenever they use external resources. The paper is divided into four main sections. In this frst section, I introduce mid-libertarianism as a normative ethical theory. In the second main section, I put forward the key arguments for mid-libertarianism, which are, roughly, that it maintains the main explanatory powers of existing versions of libertarianism, while it avoids some of the most severe problems that these theories face. In the third section, I answer some potential objections to midlibertarianism. In the fourth section, I conclude that mid-libertarianism deserves to be taken seriously as a new contender in the normative ethics debate. (shrink)