Liberty is what libertarians advocate. Both because of the inherent value of human liberty and because of the increasing wealth and welfare it brings to all. They see the aggressive coercion of the state as the main enemy of liberty. The solution is to roll back the state until there is little or no state left. Libertarianism has been rapidly growing since the 1970s. But it is still not commonly understood or even given a proper hearing. However, you will increasingly (...) come across it. Often it will be through state enthusiasts disingenuously claiming to be libertarians . At other times it will be through state enthusiasts attacking libertarianism as an extremist ideology. And very occasionally it will be real libertarians explaining and defending their views. J C Lester is a libertarian philosopher who has been writing about why liberty is preferable to politics for many years. This book contains many of his shorter writings on the subject. These range from the populist to the philosophical. Together they function as a miscellaneous introduction to libertarianism. The various different topics and approaches should give the reader a good cross-reference grasp of the subject. (shrink)
Libertarianism—and classical liberalism generally—presupposes (or entails) a specific, but implicit, conception of liberty. Imagine two lists of property-rights: one list is all those that are libertarian; the other list is all those that are not. What determines into which list a property-right is assigned? If libertarianism is really about liberty, then the determining factor must be whether the property-right fits what liberty is (in a sense more abstract than property). It greatly clarifies matters to have an explicit theory of this (...) presupposed conception. (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.
To determine 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, would be the correct way forward. Several 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 a Gallup (...) survey. The conclusion outlines three broad options on immigration and suggests that directionally-libertarian policies are both more libertarian and practical than open borders. (shrink)
Peter Singer’s famous and influential article is criticised in three main ways that can be considered libertarian, although many non-libertarians could also accept them: 1) the relevant moral principle is more plausibly about upholding an implicit contract rather than globalising a moral intuition that had local evolutionary origins; 2) its principle of the immorality of not stopping bad things is paradoxical, as it overlooks the converse aspect that would be the positive morality of not starting bad things and also thereby (...) conceptually eliminates innocence; and 3) free markets—especially international free trade—have been cogently explained to be the real solution to the global “major evils” of “poverty” and “pollution”, while “overpopulation” does not exist in free-market frameworks; hence charity is a relatively minor alleviant to the problem of insufficiently free markets. There are also various subsidiary arguments throughout. (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.
From libertarian and critical-rationalist assumptions, the moral permissibility of abortion and infanticide can be explained and defended in three principal ways; although non-libertarians and justificationists could also accept these arguments. These include new theories of personhood (in critical-rationalist terms) and harm-infliction (in libertarian terms). The three defences are independent of each other but collectively consistent. 1) The unborn and infant human is not a person in the relevant intellectual and moral sense, because incapable of critically appraising abstract conjectures. 2) There (...) is no overall proactive imposition (harm-infliction), as the unborn or infant human is only denied the benefit of support (and to suppose otherwise is paradoxical). 3) The better overall welfare consequences. Two closely related property and contract issues are briefly addressed. It is concluded that the three complementary arguments may be hard to refute, and that—as is often asserted—accepting abortion but rejecting infanticide is inconsistent. (shrink)
As a critical rationalist, I welcome criticism. A serious response can help to elucidate matters even when the criticisms mainly comprise superficial misreadings, misquotations, unsubstantiated assertions, and ill-tempered ad hominems that together amount to a professional disgrace. Thus, I am happy to reply to Professor Machan’s review of Escape from Leviathan.
As someone who wishes his own book to succeed, I am grateful for a review with such high praise from a well-known classical liberal. As a critical rationalist who wishes to learn from his mistakes, I am grateful for Norman Barry’s thoughtful 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.
The political distinction between left and right remains ideologically muddled. This was not always so, but an immediate return to the pristine usage is impractical. Putting a theory of social liberty to one side, this essay defends the interpretation of left-wing as personal-choice and right-wing as property-choice. This allows an axis that is north/choice (or state-free) and south/control (or state-ruled). This Political Compass clarifies matters without being tendentious or too complicated. It shows that what is called ‘libertarianism’ is north-wing. A (...) quiz gives the reader’s Political Compass reading. (shrink)
1) Introduction. 2) The key libertarian insight into property and orthodox libertarianism’s philosophical confusion. 3) Clearer distinctions for applying to what follows: abstract liberty; practical liberty; moral defences; and critical rationalism. 4) The two dominant (‘Lockean’ and ‘Hobbesian’) conceptions of interpersonal liberty. 5) A general account of libertarianism as a subset of classical liberalism and defended from a narrower view. 6) Two abstract (non-propertarian, non-normative) theories of interpersonal liberty developed and defended: ‘the absence of interpersonal proactively-imposed constraints on want-satisfaction’, abbreviated (...) to ‘no proactively imposed costs’; and ‘no imposed costs’. 7) Practical implications for both main abstract conceptions of liberty derived and compared. 8) How this positive analysis relates to morals. 9) Concluding conjectures: the main abstract theory of liberty captures the relevant interpersonal conception; the new paradigm of libertarianism solves the old one’s problems. (shrink)
This is a response to “Libertarianism without Argument”. Various misunderstandings in that text are given replies. Both critical rationalism and how it applies to libertarianism are elucidated and elaborated.
The key libertarian insight is that private property both protects people and their projects and promotes productivity. But orthodox private-property libertarianism is severely philosophically confused. It conflates theories of rights, property, consequences, and ‘justifications’. And this is all done without an explicit abstract theory of interpersonal liberty: an eleutherology. This is as absurd as if utilitarianism were to have no theory of utility.
This is a response to Macleod 2012's argument that the history of unjust property acquisitions requires rich libertarians to give away everything in excess of equality. At first, problematic questions are raised. How much property is usually inherited or illegitimate? Why should legitimate inheritance be affected? What of the burden of proof and court cases? A counterfactual problem is addressed. Three important cases are considered: great earned wealth; American slavery; land usurpation. All are argued to be problematic for Macleod 2012's (...) thesis. Various problems are explained concerning using the Nozickian argument to decide the alleged excess that rich libertarians own. The essay's main error is the presupposition that free markets do not help the worst-off. The majority of unjust holdings today are not the result of historical injustices but arise through continuing transfers enabled by taxation and state-regulation. More study of libertarian contributions to the social sciences and philosophy would appear to be desirable "personal behavior" among socialists. (shrink)
This book’s four main theses: -/- (1) Interpersonal liberty requires an explicit, pre-propertarian, purely factual, theory. -/- (2) Liberty is—and need only be—morally desirable in systematic practice, not in every logically possible case. In practice, there is no clash between the two main moral contenders: rights and consequences. -/- (3) Nothing can ever justify, support, or ground any theory of liberty or its applications, because it is logically impossible to transcend assumptions. Theories can only be explained, criticised, and defended within (...) conjectural frameworks. -/- (4) The state is inherently authoritarian and also negative-sum. It reduces welfare overall, with the losses compounding over time. Libertarian anarchic order is the positive-sum solution to illiberal political chaos. -/- J C Lester is a philosopher whose solution to the crucial philosophical problem of interpersonal liberty provides an explicit theory of liberty, explains how its application entails self-ownership and external property, and relates to all other interpersonal matters. (shrink)
Andy Curzon replied (often quoting from the opening sections of Lester 2014, chapter 10) in an ongoing debate with Lee Waaks, which Mr Waaks forwarded (with approval) to the Libertarian Alliance Forum (27 February 2015). This response replies to the criticisms after directly quoting them (the indented text; except where Lester is occasionally quoted, as indicated). A few cuts have been made to avoid some repetition and irrelevance. However, just as Mr Curzon sometimes repeats his main points in slightly different (...) ways and contexts in the hope that some of them might prove cogent, so this reply does the same. The dialogue-like result seems to engage more directly and completely than producing a new stand-alone exposition. And some new arguments are even developed in the process. But the full nature of many of the criticisms and replies often only becomes clear as the “dialogue” proceeds. An addendum then rebuts two further brief critical responses in the same manner. (shrink)
Under no circumstances should the absurd "right to roam‟ be incorporated into the legislation of this country. In reality, it is clearly a mere licence to trespass. Armed with the appropriate economic and philosophical arguments, we should eventually be able to offer an effective counter-attack with a movement for the "right to own‟ privately every last one of the state-controlled commons, heaths, hills, mountains, downs, woodlands, rivers, beaches, and footpaths. As a result, there will be no imposition on legitimate landowners (...) and more access to better resources for ramblers. (shrink)
David Friedman posed a number of libertarian philosophical problems (Friedman 1989). This essay criticizes Walter Block’s Rothbardian responses (Block 2011) and compares them with J C Lester’s critical-rationalist, libertarian-theory responses (Lester  2012). The main issues are as follows. 1. Critical rationalism and how it applies to libertarianism. 2.1. How libertarianism is not inherently about law and is inherently about morals. 2.2. How liberty relates to property and can be maximized: carbon dioxide and radio waves. 2.3. Applying the theory to (...) flashlights. 2.4. Applying the theory to the probability of imposed risks. 2.5. “Homesteading” or initial acquisition. 2.6 What is “essential” for a “true libertarian.” 2.7. Crime and punishment. 2.8. Extent of punishment. 2.9. The libertarian response to a madman with a gun. 2.10. How contradictions in rights are possible. 2.11. The draft. 3.1. Utilitarian libertarianism and “nose counting”. 3.2. How interpersonal comparisons of utility are possible and utility monsters are not a threat. 3.3. Why it is not utilitarian in practice to kill an innocent prisoner to prevent a riot. 3.4. Why David Friedman should not be forced to give up one of his eyes. 3.5. How utilitarians can be libertarians. Conclusion: a proper theory of liberty combined with critical rationalism offers superior solutions to Friedman’s problems. Appendix: replies to two commentators. (shrink)
This brief monograph was written in an attempt to discover the general situation of Disability Studies, given that this appears to have become a growth area in academia with various typically illiberal aspects. The findings bear out the initial impression. There is a style of argument, even propaganda (for there is usually little genuine engagement with opposing liberal views), that can be seen in many other areas of academia. It amounts to a relatively new ‘progressive’ industry with various fashionable keywords, (...) phrases and ideologies—often not obviously related to disabilities in any serious way—indicating the nature of the beast: ‘progressive’, ‘radical’, ‘oppression’, ‘bourgeois’, ‘empowerment’, ‘rights’, ‘equal opportunities’, ‘discrimination’, ‘prejudice’, ‘citizenship’, ‘social justice’, ‘socially constructed’, ‘Marxism’, ‘Post Modernism’ and ‘Feminism’. The overall picture is that disability has become increasingly politicised along politically correct lines to the detriment of society as a whole and, eventually, even to the disabled themselves. This is largely caused by the endemic trahison des clercs in our tax-consuming and coercively monopolised university system. (shrink)
This essay is part of an attempt to reconcile two extreme views in economics: the (neglected) subjective, apriorist approach and the (standard) objective, scientific (i.e., falsifiable) approach. The Austrian subjective view of value, building on Carl Menger’s theory of value, was developed into a theory of economics as being entirely an a priori theory of action. This probably finds its most extreme statement in Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action (1949). In contrast, the standard economic view has developed into making falsifiable (...) predictions about economic phenomena whereby the truth of the assumptions, especially about economic agents, is relatively unimportant: predictive fecundity is all. This finds an extreme statement in Milton Friedman’s introductory essay in his Essays in Positive Economics (1953). However, many economists fall somewhere between the two extremes, such as McKenzie and Tullock (1978). (shrink)
Why learn about philosophy? Because it is the master subject; more fundamental than all of the others: it critically examines their fundamental assumptions and presuppositions. And without some grasp of philosophy one cannot be fully educated or even intellectually autonomous: one is the meme-marionette of unexamined traditions, fashions, and commonsense assumptions.
Why learn about libertarianism? Because politics causes or exacerbates the very problems that it purports to solve, or it misperceives voluntary behaviour and free markets as problems. Liberty is always preferable: its maximal practical observance entailing self-ownership, private property, and consensual interactions. And libertarianism will be the ideological framework of the future of humankind.
What is my thesis? It is not that radical experimentation by the state, rather than liberal democracy, is more in accord with the spirit and logic of Popper’s ‘revolutionary’ epistemology. It is the opposite criticism, that full anarchic libertarianism (individual liberty and the free market without any state interference) better fits Popper’s epistemology and scientific method.
This essay goes through Frederick 2015 (F15) in some detail, responding to the various paraphrases and criticisms therein. It is argued that in each case F15 is mistaken about what Lester 2012 (L12) says, or about what F15 presents as a sound criticism, or both. It is concluded that the philosophical theory of new-paradigm libertarianism that L12 (etc.) comprises has yet to be given adequate critical consideration, and that almost all libertarian texts still fall foul of the three fundamental errors (...) that L12 (etc.) has explained and corrected at length in response to many texts. (shrink)
It is an irony to attack a more sceptical epistemology than one's own in the name of scepticism and defend, instead, an epistemology that is positively illogical. And yet that is what Martin Gardner has done in his “A Skeptical Look at Karl Popper.”.
Lester‘s reply to the review by Gordon and Modugno of Escape from Leviathan was due to appear in a later edition of the same periodical, but it was eventually dropped without notice or a reason being given. Subsequently, their review has occasionally been cited in isolation as a refutation of that book‘s theory of liberty, the compatibility of such liberty with welfare maximisation, and the use of "Popperian views" as though a complete reply did not exist and were not freely (...) available and easily found online. To make it harder to avoid the reply, whether by accident or design, it is reproduced here (but with sundry small emendations for greater clarity). (shrink)
This essay is intended to be a refutation of the main thesis in Against Intellectual Property, Kinsella 2008 (hereafter, K8). Points of agreement, relatively trivial disagreement, and irrelevant issues will largely be ignored, as will much repetition of errors in K8. Otherwise, the procedure is to go through K8 quoting various significantly erroneous parts as they arise and explaining the errors involved. It will not be necessary to respond at the same length as K8 itself.
This essay explains Jeffrey Friedman's two fundamental and persistent philosophical errors concerning the libertarian conception of liberty and the lack of a "justification‟ of libertarianism. It is ironic that Friedman himself is thereby revealed to be guilty of both an “a priori” anti-libertarianism and an anti-libertarian “straddle.” Critical-rationalist, proactive-imposition-minimising libertarianism remains completely unchallenged by him.
Frederick 2013 (F13) offers criticisms of the Lester 2012 (L12) theory of libertarian liberty and of its compatibility with preference-utilitarian welfare and private-property anarchy. This reply to F13 first explains the underlying philosophical problem with libertarian liberty and L12’s solution. It then goes through F13 in detail showing that it does not grasp the problem or the solution and offers only misrepresentations and unsound criticisms.
Most self-identified libertarians unwittingly have a moral muddle without a central factual theory of liberty. They cannot yet see that they first need to sort out what liberty is, and therefore entails if instantiated, and only after that can moral questions about it be coherently raised and tackled.
(Revised 31-10-17) This is only one view on the topic; other views may be rather different. It starts at the more philosophical end and then becomes more empirical, and possibly easier to understand, as it proceeds.
In this book Alan Haworth tends to sneer at libertarians. However, there are, I believe, a few sound criticisms. I have always held similar opinions of Murray Rothbard‟s and Friedrich Hayek‟s definitions of liberty and coercion, Robert Nozick‟s account of natural rights, and Hayek‟s spontaneous-order arguments. I urge believers of these positions to read Haworth. But I don‟t personally know many libertarians who believe them (or who regard Hayek as a libertarian).
Charles Murray describes himself as a libertarian, most notably in his short book, What it Means to be a Libertarian. He might more accurately have described himself as having libertarian tendencies. My reading of Simple Justice is that the views it espouses are far more traditionalist than libertarian. Neither traditionalist state-retribution nor modernist state-leniency is libertarian. Nor does either provide as just or efficient a response to crime as does libertarian restitution, including restitutive retribution. Here, I shall respond directly only (...) to Murray's views, rather than also deal with state-leniency. This is because I accept Murray's thesis, without endorsing his specific arguments for it, that state-leniency is disastrous as a response to crimes against persons and their justly acquired property. (shrink)
The “free world” was the political rhetoric used during the Cold War in contrast to the “communist” countries. However, the “free world” was manifestly never free: the state considerably interfered with people in their persons and their property. And the “communist” countries were manifestly never communist: there was no common ownership of the means of production with the absence of social classes, money, and the state. It would have been more accurate to call them the “authoritarian world” and the “totalitarian (...) world”. Today the “free world” is sometimes still used, but Western countries remain authoritarian in terms of taxation and restrictive legislation. The, by implication, “unfree world” is largely only somewhat more authoritarian. Why does this continuing authoritarianism exist in the West? (shrink)
This essay explains various significant errors, imprecisions, and omissions concerning libertarianism in Long 2013. The “right not to be aggressed against” is not, as such, the libertarian right because the ‘right to liberty’ must be that right (although not being aggressed against can charitably be interpreted as equivalent). There are non-libertarian rights, but they don’t override the right to liberty. Unsupported assumptions are inevitable because justifications are impossible. Rights should not be “defined” but, rather, morally and metaphysically theorised—with criticism permanently (...) invited. Moral and legal permissibility need to be clearly distinguished. The conceptions of “aggression” and “force” are normative and confused. It is possible to advocate the right to liberty on no grounds whatsoever and also to conjecture that liberty (deontologically) and welfare (consequentially) are systematically compatible in practice for theoretical and causal reasons. The rejection of positive rights is “privileging” and not “conceptual”. Libertarian property needs to be derived from an explicit, non-normative, theory of libertarian liberty. Long 2013’s overall account is “mysterious” and “one-sided”. (shrink)
This is an excellent though largely uncritical introduction to, and defence of, Robert Nozick‟s Anarchy, State and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974). It is also quite a good introduction to libertarianism. It is full of good arguments. I shall confine myself to critical remarks. My responses are mainly in the order that matters arise in the book.
The Zwolinski 2013 "libertarianism and liberty" essays on libertarianism_org are argued to have the following problems: taking libertarianism to be a "commitment" to the view that "liberty is the highest political value" ; examining and rejecting the maximization of liberty without a libertarian theory of liberty; accepting a persuasive sense of "coercion" ; misunderstandingliberty in the work place; conflating, to varying degrees, freedom of action and freedom from aggression and justice/rights/morals; focusing on logically possible clashes instead of practically possible congruence (...) among utility, liberty, and justice – in particular, that "rule (preference-)utilitarianism" fits "rule libertarianism" ; failing to distinguish liberty from license (and power) concerning slavery, and so-called "civil and democratic liberties" (and everything else); the idea that any coherent reference to a quantity of liberty requires precise cardinality; failing to see that the quantity of liberty has an inherently qualitative aspect; misunderstanding property as about limiting freedom; mistaking clashing Hobbesian freedom for non-clashing Lockean liberty; adopting G. A. Cohen's confusion about freedom as the libertarian conception of freedom; assuming the – illogical – epistemology of justification" ; not realizing that both allowing and prohibiting pollution "aggresses" and so "aggressions" need to be minimized; the failure of all six of its reasons for rejecting the non-aggression principle. (shrink)
The editors of the Journal of Applied Philosophy allowed Alan Haworth to reply to my short review of his Anti-Libertarianism. The editors would not allow me to respond to Haworth. Thanks to the openness of internet publication and the Libertarian Alliance website, this can now be rectified and Haworth's reply can no longer escape a public critical response.
This book has many arguments doing an excellent job of dismantling the positions of those who would have the state do considerably more than defend the national realm. Thus far, it is hard for me to fault it—which is more difficult when one is already in agreement: the ideologically opposed can often provide more useful criticisms. But, as the book‟s title indicates, it does not go all the way to anarcho-liberalism (in fact, it does not even fully embody certain basic (...) tenets of classical liberalism). And as its criticisms of anarcho-liberalism—or private-property anarchy—are those to which I am ideologically opposed, I shall mainly concentrate on those. (shrink)
This essay examines sections relevant to libertarianism in Will Kymlicka’s Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (2nd ed.), making and explaining the following criticisms. Kymlicka’s “preface” misconstrues political philosophy’s progress, purpose, and its relation to libertarianism. In his “introduction”, his “project” mistakes libertarianism as “right-wing”, justice as compromise among “existing theories”, and equality as the “ultimate value.” His “a note on method” in effect takes as axioms, beyond philosophical examination, various alleged desiderata and the necessary moral role of the state. Moreover, (...) his “ultimate test” being “our considered convictions” amounts to a conservative and illogical justificationism at odds with radical and coherent critical rationalism. Kymlicka’s chapter on “libertarianism” mistakes it as, inherently and unavoidably, free-marketist, anti-consequentialist, deontological, Nozickian, requiring “a foundational moral premiss, without objective content, unmaximisable, indistinguishable from license, equality-based, anti-anarchist, “self-defeating”, indefensibly “unfair”, impractically “philosophical”, and without influence. A different version of libertarianism easily withstands all Kymlicka’s antipathetic criticisms. (shrink)
Vallentyne 2010 and Zwolinski 2008 are internet encyclopaedia articles on “libertarianism” which include various serious faults. Vallentyne 2010 has the following ones. It does not properly explain mainstream libertarianism or consider criticisms of it. Instead, it mainly discusses self-ownership and natural-resource egalitarianism. Every aspect of the alleged “strict sense” of “libertarianism” is dubi ous, at best. So- called “left - libertarianism” is not made sense of as any kind of liberty-based libertarianism. Problems arise because self-ownership is assumed to be libertarian (...) without an explicit theory of libertarian liberty. The replies to “five impor tant objections to full self- ownership” are confused and mistaken; both as regards philosophical analysis and as regards empirical assumptions. The long discussion about various ways to “Appropriate Natural Resources” is rendered muddled and barren by the lack of a clear libertarian theory of liberty, the mere presumption of some form of egalitarianism, and the inclusion of various non-libertarian criteria. The remaining sections are largely uninformed by any relevant libertarian literature. It reaches a justificationist conclusion that cites mistaken welfare concerns and ignores the productivity of free markets. Zwolinski 2008 shares some errors with Vallentyne 2010, but also includes the following ones. It is even less clear about what libertarian liberty is. It fails to understand that libertarianism (private-property anarchy and, possibly, minarchy) is a subset of classical liberalism. It asserts that libertarianism is about “the proper role of government.” It assumes (illogical) justificationist/foundationalist epistemology and does not mention critical-rationalist libertarianism. It eventually faults justificationism and unwittingly assumes something approaching critical rationalism. Finally, it embraces John Rawls’s “overlapping consensus” as a “justification” (i.e., defence) of libertarianism oblivious to the similar position in Lester 1996 and 2000. (shrink)
Libertarians typically object to having the state deal with law and order for several general reasons: it is inefficient; it is carried out at the expense of taxpayers; and it punishes so-called victimless crimes. Exactly what the observance of liberty implies with respect to the treatment of tortfeasors and criminals is more controversial among libertarians. A pure theory of libertarian restitution and retribution is mainly what is attempted here, without becoming involved in general moral anti-state arguments. However, the pure theory (...) alone will raise practical problems that require immediate response if the theory is to appear at all plausible. (shrink)
This paper argues for a non-moral interpretation of the libertarian conception of interpersonal liberty as ‘the absence of imposed cost.’ In the event of a clash of imposed costs, observing such liberty entails ‘minimising imposed costs’. Three fundamental criticisms are examined: strictly interpreted, this would logically imply genocide in practice; it is impractically unclear and moralised; it could entail mob rule of some kind. Self-ownership and private property are then non-morally derived merely from applying this formula in a state of (...) nature. Various subsidiary issues arise throughout. (shrink)
Kukathas’s proposed libertarian dilemma is introduced and two key criticisms of it stated. The following critical commentary then makes several main points. Kukathas’s account of libertarianism offers no theory of liberty at all, nor a coherent account of aggression. Consequently, he cannot see that his “Federation of Liberty” is not libertarian by a basic understanding of morals and non-invasive liberty, still less by a more precise theory of liberty. In trying to explain his “Union of Liberty,” Kukathas evinces considerable confusion (...) about the nature of libertarianism. His argument that a monopoly legal system is inevitable is also neither plausible nor libertarian. He has apparently overlooked the cogent arguments against Nozickian minarchy, and in favor of anarchy. It is concluded that the neglect of libertarian theories of liberty and anarchy is the underlying problem. (shrink)
Private-property anarchy is better than the state in the enhancement of liberty and welfare. Strictly speaking, market exchange is one aspect of private-property anarchy. But I here focus on market-anarchy as that is a main source of confusion and debate. Similarly, pluralism is another aspect of private-property anarchy. I focus on pluralism as an example of a currently popular topic where private-property anarchy is misunderstood. ‘Pluralism’ here means ‘(tolerating) different ways of life’. ‘The market’ means ‘voluntary exchange’. ‘Anarchy’ means ‘no (...) rule’. Both interpersonal liberty and private property are inherently anarchic: no one is ruled to the extent that these exist. They are also naturally pluralist. The state, by contrast, coercively imposes ultimate control and is thus inherently illiberal and naturally Procrustean. Democratic prejudice obscures these facts. (shrink)
With respect to the phenomenal distinction that is conventionally made between ‘personal’ and ‘economic’ liberty, I do accept that “there is no logical incoherence in claiming that constraint of one can lead to an increase in the other.” Though, as Cole understands, I doubt the conceptual coherence of the distinction (let us call this view the ‘identity thesis’). So I assert that though the personal/economic distinction is conceptually dubious, it can stand unproblematically as illustrating the phenomenal distinctions that people do (...) make. I cannot see how “this inherent conceptual tension at two points of the compass does threaten it with collapse” as a phenomenal illustration as well, if that is what Cole means (as his “despite Lester’s protests” indicates). (shrink)
The most relevant and plausible conceptions of economic rationality, interpersonal liberty, human welfare, and private-property anarchy do not conflict in theory or practice. Using philosophy and social science, Escape from Leviathan defends this bold, non-normative, thesis from contrary positions in the scholarly literature. Writers considered include David Friedman, John Gray, R. M. Hare, Robert Nozick, Karl Popper, John Rawls, Murray Rothbard, Alan Ryan, Amartya Sen, and Bernard Williams. *** The rationality assumptions of neoclassical and Austrian School economics are reconciled and (...) related to liberty and welfare. A new pre-propertarian theory of interpersonal liberty as the absence of (initiated or proactively) imposed cost is argued to be libertarian. Human welfare is defended as the satisfaction of unimposed wants. Practical anarchy is simply unconstrained private property. Related topics include free will, weakness of will, the nature of moralizing, intellectual property, and restitution and retribution. Critical-rationalist epistemology (theories can only be criticized and tested, not justified or supported) is applied throughout. This is a ground-breaking work that is also an excellent introduction to libertarianism and social thought. (shrink)
Private-property anarchy is better than the state in the enhancement of liberty and welfare. Strictly speaking, market exchange is one aspect of private-property anarchy. But I here focus on market-anarchy as that is a main source of confusion and debate. Similarly, pluralism is another aspect of privateproperty anarchy. I focus on pluralism as an example of a currently popular topic where private-property anarchy is misunderstood. ‘Pluralism’ here means ‘(tolerating) different ways of life’. ‘The market’ means ‘voluntary exchange’. ‘Anarchy’ means ‘no (...) rule’. Both interpersonal liberty and private property are inherently anarchic: no one is ruled to the extent that these exist. They are also naturally pluralist. The state, by contrast, coercively imposes ultimate control and is thus inherently illiberal and naturally Procrustean. Democratic prejudice obscures these facts. (shrink)