Hoppe’s Derivation of Self-ownership from Argumentation: Analysis and Critique

Reason Papers 35 (1):92-106 (2013)
Hans-Hermann Hoppe contends that the fact that a person has the capacity to argue entails that she has the moral right of exclusive control over her own body. Critics of Hoppe’s argument do not appear to have pinpointed its flaws. I expose the logical structure of Hoppe’s argument, distinguishing its pragmatic-contradiction and its mutual-recognition components. I provide three counterexamples to show that Hoppe’s mutual-recognition argument is invalid and I argue that the truth that appears to motivate the argument is simply a banality. I show that Hoppe’s pragmatic-contradiction argument is invalid, has a false premise and fails to link up with his mutual-recognition argument in the way that he requires to reach his conclusion. I conclude by outlining three perils of pragmatic-contradiction arguments, the weakness of mutual-recognition arguments, and the implausibility of attempts to derive a universal moral status from a specialised activity such as argumentation.
Keywords argumentation  discourse ethics  Hoppe  libertarian  moral status  mutual recognition  persons  pragmatic contradiction  rights  self-ownership
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