Review of Metaphysics 49 (1):142-144 (1995)

Tibor Machan's latest book The Virtue of Liberty represents the newest instance of an increasing trend toward naturalist defenses of libertarianism. This is a different sort of defense than the traditional natural-rights conception, such as might be found in Locke, or the various consequentialist approaches, such as might be found in Mill or Hayek. The sort of naturalist defense that has been becoming increasingly prominent is based on a neo-Aristotelian conception of human flourishing, and on the necessity of political freedom to its realization. Actually, Machan has been toiling in these vineyards since the 1970s, and although this approach to defending classical liberalism is still a minority view in the academy, recent years have seen great growth in this area Human flourishing, the argument goes, depends on the use of particular human virtues in the development of self-directed behavior. Practical reason is seen as a necessary condition of human well-being. If the application of reason to self-directed behavior is the crucial element in human flourishing, then humans need to be free to develop and pursue their own ends, at least to the extent that this pursuit does not infringe on others' ability to do the same. Rights are then natural rights in the sense that they follow from the nature of human being. This differs from the Lockean tradition of deriving rights from God's laws, although the rights derived are similar in scope, namely, they are conceived as negative rights only, or freedoms.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1995491117
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