Some people may think that libertarianism and meritocracy have much in common; that the libertarian's ideal world looks like the meritocrat's ideal world; and that the public policies guiding us to each are one and the same. This is wrong in all respects. In this essay I explain why. -/- After providing an overview of meritocratic justice, I argue that meritocracy is a more compelling theory of distributive justice than libertarianism. Meritocracy better protects the core value of personal (...) responsibility; incorporates efficiency-enhancing regulation which libertarianism cannot; provides more positive liberty; and solves salient, real-world debates about distributive justice. (shrink)
Abstract -/- Libertarians typically believe that we are morally responsible for the choices (or decisions) we make only if those choices are free, and our choices are free only if they are neither caused nor nomically necessitated by antecedent events. Recently, there have been a number of attempts by philosophers to refute libertarianism by arguing that because a libertarianly free decision (choice) is both causally and nomically undetermined, which decision an agent makes in a deliberative situation is a matter (...) of luck, which implies (due to the way these philosophers use 'luck') that the agent does not have control over which decision he makes. This argument has been dubbed "the Argument from Luck" or "the Luck Objection" against libertarianism – henceforth 'LO'. In this paper, we examine some versions of LO as reflected in the works of Alfred Mele (2006), Neil Levy (2011), and Peter van Inwagen (2000, 2011). We argue that libertarians have nothing to fear from LO. Deep down the objection reflects a failure, on the part of its proponents, really to come to grips with the libertarian position. (shrink)
The luck argument raises a serious challenge for libertarianism about free will. In broad outline, if an action is undetermined, then it appears to be a matter of luck whether or not one performs it. And if it is a matter of luck whether or not one performs an action, then it seems that the action is not performed with free will. This argument is most effective against event-causal accounts of libertarianism. Recently, Franklin (Philosophical Studies 156:199–230, 2011) has (...) defended event-causal libertarianism against four formulations of the luck argument. I will argue that three of Franklin’s responses are unsuccessful and that there are important versions of the luck challenge that his defense has left unaddressed. (shrink)
Event-causal libertarians maintain that an agent’s freely bringing about a choice is reducible to states and events involving him bringing about the choice. Agent-causal libertarians demur, arguing that free will requires that the agent be irreducibly causally involved. Derk Pereboom and Meghan Griffith have defended agent-causal libertarianism on this score, arguing that since on event-causal libertarianism an agent’s contribution to his choice is exhausted by the causal role of states and events involving him, and since these states and (...) events leave it open which decision he will make, he does not settle which decision occurs, and thus “disappears.” My aim is to explain why this argument fails. In particular, I demonstrate that event-causal libertarians can dismantle the argument by enriching the reductive base in their analysis of free will to include a state that plays the functional role of the self-determining agent and with which the agent is identified. (shrink)
The most prominent argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism is Peter van Inwagen’s consequence argument. In this paper, I offer a new diagnosis of what is wrong with this argument. Both proponents and critics of the argument typically accept the way it is framed and only disagree on whether the argument’s premises and the rules of inference on which it relies are true. I suggest that the argument involves a category mistake: it conflates two different levels of (...) description, namely the physical level at which we describe the state of the world from the perspective of fundamental physics and the agential level at which we describe agents and their actions. My diagnosis is based on an account of free will as a higher-level phenomenon that was developed in List (2014). I will call this account ‘compatibilist libertarianism’, for reasons that will become clear in the discussion. (shrink)
The question I raise is whether Mark Balaguer’s event-causal libertarianism can withstand the disappearing agent objection. The concern is that with the causal role of the events antecedent to a decision already given, nothing settles whether the decision occurs, and so the agent does not settle whether the decision occurs. Thus it would seem that in this view the agent will not have the control in making decisions required for moral responsibility. I examine whether Balaguer’s position has the resources (...) to answer this objection. (shrink)
Reductionism about testimony holds that testimonial warrant or entitlement is just a species of inductive warrant. Anti-Reductionism holds that it is different from inductive but analogous to perceptual or memorial warrant. Perception receives much of its positive epistemic status from being reliably truthconducive in normal conditions. One reason to reject the epistemic analogy is that testimony involves agency – it goes through the will of the speaker – but perception does not. A speaker might always choose to lie or otherwise (...) deliberately mislead. It is argued that the force of this derives (in part) from Libertarianism about agency, and that Libertarianism, if it undermines the Anti-Reductionist explanation of why we are entitled to rely upon testimony, undermines the Reductionist explanation as.. (shrink)
The so-called Mind argument aims at the conclusion that agents act freely only if determinism is true. The soundness of this argument entails the falsity of libertarianism, the two-part thesis that agents act freely, and free action and determinism are incompatible. In this paper, I offer a new formulation of the Mind argument. I argue that it is true by definition that if an agent acts freely, either (i) nothing nomologically grounds an agent’s acting freely, or (ii) the consequence (...) argument for incompatibilism is unsound. I define the notion of nomological grounding, and argue that unless an agent’s acting freely is nomologically grounded, unacceptable consequences follow. I then argue that if agents act freely and the consequence argument is sound, a vicious regress ensues. I conclude by considering the libertarian’s dialectical options. (shrink)
In his book, Building Better Beings, Manuel Vargas argues that we should reject libertarianism, on the grounds that it is naturalistically implausible, and embrace revisionism rather than eliminativism, on the grounds that the former is a shorter departure from ordinary thinking about moral responsibility. I argue that Vargas fails to adequately appreciate the extent to which ordinary judgments about moral responsibility involve ascriptions of basic desert as well as the centrality of basic desert in the ordinary conception of moral (...) responsibility. Insofar as this is correct, we have good reason to think, first, that libertarianism is much more naturalistically plausible than Vargas maintains and, second, that we ought to opt for eliminativism over revisionism in the event that libertarianism turns out to be implausible. (shrink)
In this paper I criticize libertarianism and skepticism about free will. The criticism of libertarianism takes some steps towards filling in an argument that is often mentioned but seldom developed in any detail, the argument that libertarianism is a scientifically implausible view. I say "take some steps" because I think the considerations I muster (at most) favor a less ambitious relative of that argument. The less ambitious claim I hope to motivate is that there is little reason (...) to believe that extant libertarian accounts satisfy a standard of naturalistic plausibility, even if they do satisfy a standard of naturalistic compatibility. The argument against skepticism about free will tries to show (1) perhaps the most prominent form of skeptical argument against the existence of free will does not work, and (2) there is a good general argument against skepticism about free will. (shrink)
Perhaps the greatest impediment to a viable libertarianism is the provision of a satisfactory explanation of how actions that are undetermined by an agent''s character can still be under the control of, or up to, the agent. The luck problem has been most assiduously examined by Robert Kane who supplies a detailed account of how this problem can be resolved. Although Kane''s theory is innovative, insightful, and more resourceful than most of his critics believe, it ultimately cannot account for (...) the type of control that moral responsibility and (ultimate) agency legitimately require. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss two kinds of attempts to qualify incompatibilist and compatibilist conceptions of freedom to avoid what have been thought to be incredible commitments of these rival accounts. One attempt -- which I call soft libertarianism -- is represented by Robert Kane''s work. It hopes to defend an incompatibilist conception of freedom without the apparently difficult metaphysical costs traditionally incurred by these views. On the other hand, in response to what I call the robot objection (that (...) if compatibilism is true, human beings could be the products of design), some compatibilists are tempted to soften their position by placing restrictions on the origins of agency. I argue that both of these attempts are misguided. Hard libertarianism and hard compatibilism are the only theoretical options. (shrink)
This paper explores the implications of libertarianism for welfare policy. There are two central arguments. First, the paper argues that if one adopts a libertarian framework, it makes most sense to be a Lockean right-libertarian. Second, the paper argues that this form of libertarianism leads to the endorsement of a fairly extensive set of redistributive welfare programs. Specifically, the paper argues that Lockean right-libertarians are committed to endorsing welfare programs under which the receipt of benefits is conditional on (...) meeting a work requirement, and also endorsing some form of publicly funded jobs of last resort for potential welfare recipients. (shrink)
The conclusions on libertarianism Robert Nozick reaches are appropriate for a bygone era. In a modern market economy, libertarianism requires that employable people have the option of taking up a publicly provided income instead of employment. This is the only way to compensate the involuntarily unemployed that a market economy requires and to ensure that all employment is voluntary. Taxation on voluntary exchanges is unobjectionable because it alters prices, not property, and no one has a right to a (...) particular price. The best way to provide state incomes for the capable unemployed is through a negative income tax.Les conclusions de libertarisme que tire Nozick valent pour une époque révolue. Dans une économie de marché moderne, le libertarisme exige que les gens aptes au travail puissent opter pour un revenu de source publique plutôt que pour un travail. Voilà le seul moyen de compenser les sans-emploi involontaires que requiert l’economie de marché et de s’assurer que chacun travaille volontairement. Imposer les échanges volontaires est acceptable parce que cela affecte les prix, non la propriété, et que nul n’a droit à un prix prticulier. Le meilleur moyen pour l’État de fournir un revenu aux sans-emploi aptes au travail passe par un impôt sur le revenu négatif. (shrink)
This essay is the introduction to a special debate issue of the journal "Basic Income Studies" on the topic of whether libertarians should endorse a universal basic income. The essay attempts to clarify some common uses of the term 'libertarianism" as it is used by moral and political philosophers. It identifies some important common features of libertarian normative theories.
The Assimilation Argument purports to show that libertarians cannot plausibly distinguish supposed exercises of free will from random outcomes that nobody would count as exercises of free will. If this argument is sound, libertarians should either abandon their position or else concede that free will is a mystery. Drawing on a parallel with the Manipulation Argument against compatibilism, Christopher Franklin has recently contended that the Assimilation Argument is unsound. Here I defend the Assimilation Argument and the Rollback Argument, a second (...) challenge to libertarianism that Franklin rejects. My aim in doing so is to underscore the force of these challenges, and thereby to resist what appears to be an emerging trend in the literature. By not coming to grips with the kind of power that libertarians must secure, many writers have recently downplayed or dismissed the pressing worry for libertarianism. (shrink)
The scope of libertarian law is normally limited to the application of the non-aggression principle (NAP), nothing more and nothing less. However, judging when the NAP has been violated requires not only a conception of praxeological notions such as aggression, but also interpretive understanding of what synthetic events count as the relevant praxeological types. Interpretive understanding—or verstehen—can be extremely heterogeneous between agents. The particular verständnis taken by a judge has considerable moral and political implications. Since selecting a verständnis is pre-requisite (...) to applying the NAP, the NAP itself cannot tell us which one we ought morally to choose. Therefore the application of the NAP calls on moral and political considerations outside of the NAP itself. Since some of these are more consistent with an endorsement of the NAP than others, libertarianism is not a “thin” commitment to the NAP alone, but a “thick” commitment to the NAP and other supporting moral and political considerations. (shrink)
The hyper libertarian is compatibilist about control, but incompatibilist about free will. This paper argues that such a position has more to recommend it than either compatibilism or traditional libertarianism. It combines what is strongest about both positions, without encountering their principle weaknesses. Furthermore it has the resources to help render intelligible the reality of moral luck.
This paper aims to persuade its reader that libertarianism, at least in several of its varieties, is a species of the genus Michael Oakeshott referred to as ‘rationalism in politics’. I hope to demonstrate, employing the work of Oakeshott, as well as Aristotle and Onora O’Neill, how many libertarian theorists, who generally have a sincere and admirable commitment to personal liberty, have been led astray by the rationalist promise that we might be able to approach deductive certainty concerning the (...) 'correctness' of some political programme. Of course libertarians, in common with the adherents of almost any other political ‘stance’, are not a monolithic body, but exhibit a variety of more or less rationalist arguments for their views. For example, a thinker like Hayek, who is often placed in the libertarian camp, came to adopt much of Oakeshott’s critique of rationalism in his later work. And, of course, Oakeshott himself expressed an affinity for libertarian ideas in his essay, ‘The Political Economy of Freedom’ (1991 ). But a general predilection to enhance individual freedom as far as is deemed practicable is quite a different matter from taking a stance in which liberty, and liberty conceived in a rather narrow fashion, is the only value deemed admissible into ‘reasonable’ political discourse. (We will see in a subsequent section that Oakeshott recognized this urge to sanctify one value above all others as a logical requirement of striving for deductive political truths.) I believe that a critique of such libertarian rationalism is particularly relevant given the present situation in the United States vis-à-vis civil rights and the ongoing ‘war on terror’, in that many non- libertarian supporters of peace and strong civil rights find themselves allied with libertarians on these issues—if libertarians have gotten these issues ‘correct’, then how might they have gone wrong elsewhere? Furthermore, the critique may aid libertarians themselves, because, if the title of this paper is accurate, such a single-minded exaltation of one value above all others is an enemy of true liberty, so that libertarians might want to rethink adopting such a position. As Philip Pettit demonstrates (1997), freedom as non-domination is more robust and inclusive of all that we value about freedom than is the libertarian concept of freedom as non-interference; by allowing, say, immense economic power to be concentrated in a single corporation, as intervention to break the company up would violate the principle of non-interference, libertarian ideas may greatly diminish the liberty of the people subject to that corporate power. (shrink)
People evolved as part of an ecosystem, making use of the Earth’s bounty without reflection. Only when our ancestors developed the capacity for moral agency could we begin to reflect on whether we had taken in excess of our due. This outlines a ‘green libertarianism’ in which our property rights are grounded in fundamental ecological facts. It further argues that it is immune from two objections levelled at right- and left- libertarian theories of acquisition: that Robert Nozick, without justification, (...) divided people into those who were able to acquire unowned resources, and those would could not; and, that left-libertarian attempts, such as Hillel Steiner’s, to separate choice from circumstance cannot account for the fact that not only people’s decisions to have children, but even their decisions to continue living, affect people’s entitlements to use the natural world. (shrink)
Libertarianism and the shareholder model of corporate responsibility have long been thought of as natural bedfellows. In a recent contribution to the Journal of Business Ethics, Brian Schaefer goes so far as to suggest that a proponent of shareholder theory cannot coherendy and consistently embrace any moral position other than philosophical libertarianism. The view that managers have a fiduciary obligation to advance the interests of shareholders exclusively is depicted as fundamentally incompatible with the acknowledgement of natural positive duties (...) – duties to aid others that have not been acquired by some prior commitment or transaction. I argue that Schaefer is mistaken. Positive duties are incompatible with the shareholder model only if we must contribute to their fulfilment in the corporate context; only if we have some reason to think that it is not possible or not permissible to discharge these obligations entirely in our private lives or through our various other roles and capacities. But we have no good reason to accept this. I argue that individuals are presumptively free to decide how and when to discharge their positive duties, and that buying shares does not cause this presumption to lapse. Hence a non-libertarian moral theory can be held without incoherence by a proponent of the shareholder model. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen famously offers a version of the luck objection to libertarianism called the ‘Rollback Argument.’ The thought experiment describes God as providing an agent with many opportunities to act in the same circumstance. And because the agent has the kind of freedom that affords her alternative possibilities at the moment of choice, she performs different actions in some of these opportunities. The upshot is that whichever action she performs in the actual-sequence is intuitively a matter of mere (...) chance. I explore a new response to the Rollback Argument. Namely, if there are true counterfactuals of libertarian freedom, then the agent performs the same action each time she is placed in the same circumstance, because that is what she would freely do in that circumstance. This response appears to negate the chancy intuition. Ultimately, however, I argue that this new response is unsuccessful, because there is a variant of the Rollback Argument that presents the same basic challenge to the libertarian on the assumption that there are true counterfactuals of libertarian freedom. Thus, true counterfactuals of libertarian freedom do not provide the libertarian with a solution to the Rollback Argument. (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)
(The University of Buckingham Press, forthcoming 2017) -/- 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. -/- These bold claims are expounded and defended in the two dialogues in this book, which are intended to be amusing and stimulating brief introductions to philosophy and to libertarianism. They can be read without any background in either subject. However, they contain many arguments and ideas that may be of interest to people who already have a good grasp of both. They are full of examples of the author’s—often highly unorthodox—critically preferred theories, rather than attempting to be comprehensive and neutral (as most introductory books ostensibly try, but inevitably fail, to be). (shrink)
Non-Causal Libertarianism (NCL) is a libertarian position which aims to provide a non-causal account of action and freedom to do otherwise. NCL has been recently criticized from a number of quarters, notably from proponents of free will skepticism and agent-causation. The main complaint that has been voiced against NCL is that it does not provide a plausible account of an agent’s control over her action, and therefore, the account of free action it offers is inadequate. Some critics (mainly agent-causationists) (...) have even gone so far as to claim that NCL does not offer a plausible account of action. My goal in this paper is to defend NCL against these charges. More specifically, I deal with Derk Pereboom's Disappearing-Agent-Objection, Peter van Inwagen's Mind Argument, and with two objections to NCL by Randolph Clarke. (shrink)
Many critics of libertarian freedom have charged that freedom is incompatible with indeterminism. We show that the strongest argument that has been provided for this claim is invalid. The invalidity of the argument in question, however, implies the invalidity of the standard Consequence argument for the incompatibility of freedom and determinism. We show how to repair the Consequence argument and argue that no similar improvement will revive the worry about the compatibility of indeterminism and freedom.
In the longstanding debate between liberals and libertarians over the morality of redistributive labor taxation, liberals such as John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin have consistently taken the position that such taxation is perfectly compatible with individual liberty, whereas libertarians such as Robert Nozick and Murray Rothbard have adopted the (very) contrary position that such taxation is tantamount to slavery. In this paper, I argue that the debate over redistributive labor taxation can be usefully reconstituted as a debate over the incidents (...) (or components) of self-ownership, with liberals arguing for a narrow definition of the concept and libertarians arguing for a broad one. By using what Alan Ryan has called the “language of proprietorship,” I pinpoint precisely the source of the disagreement between liberals and libertarians and assess the relative strengths of their arguments. I also show that the respective definitions of self-ownership used by liberals and libertarians are deeply problematic—though for strikingly different reasons. (shrink)
This article critically examines recent work on free will and moral responsibility by Randolph Clarke, Robert Kane, and Timothy O’Connor in an attempt to clarify issues about control and luck that are central to the debate between libertarians (agent causationists and others) and their critics. It is argued that luck poses an as yet unresolved problem for libertarians.
Most libertarians think that some version of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) is true. A number of libertarians, which I call ‘Frankfurt-libertarians,’ think that they need not embrace any version of PAP. In this paper, I examine the writings of one such Frankfurt-libertarian, Eleonore Stump, for her evaluation of the impact of Frankfurt-style counterexamples (FSCs) to PAP. I show how, contrary to her own claims, Stump does need a PAP-like principle for her account of free action. I briefly argue (...) that this discussion also goes some distance to showing that any Frankfurt-libertarian is in a similar position regarding the need for some PAP-like principle. If I am correct, then Frankfurt-libertarians must either renounce their incompatibilism or concede that FSCs fail to show all PAP-like principles to be false. (shrink)
Some libertarians tend to advocate the wide availability of cognition-enhancing drugs beyond their current prescription-only status. They suggest that certain kinds of drugs can be a component of a prudential conception of the ‘good life’—they enhance our opportunities and preferences; and therefore, if a person freely chooses to use them, then there is no justification for the kind of prejudicial, authoritative restrictions that are currently deployed in public policy. In particular, this libertarian idea signifies that if enhancements are a prudential (...) ‘good’ for the user, then this can also be construed as a moral good for all rational agents. If this argument is successful, there can be no substantial distinction between the categorical benefits of enhancement, and what is labeled as an enhancement technology. In this paper, I argue that the exclusivity of egotistical choice, and an uncritical deployment of enhancement as a prudential good, underplays the role of a social and political community when creating a procedurally just and effective public policy. Principally, the argument is devoid of any ethical system to permit the external—and therefore public–appreciation of the social context of moral decisions. In effect, libertarian arguments of this sort must disregard any ideas of public ethics, because the liberty to use whatever means available to gain a socio-economic advantage actually extinguishes any professed legitimation strategy. Escaping the procedural aspects of public policy, which are considered integral to authoritative coherence, results in the erosion of any moral obligations. Thus, in a libertarian society, disenfranchised individuals—such as those harmed through addiction—are the unlucky or superfluous product of a liberal and ‘progressive’ society. (shrink)
My primary objective is to motivate the concern that leading libertarian views of free action seem unable to account for an agent’s behavior in a way that reveals an explanatorily apt connection between the agent’s prior reasons and the intentional behavior to be explained. I argue that it is this lack of a suitable reasons explanation of purportedly free decisions that underpins the objection that agents who act with the pertinent sort of libertarian freedom cannot be morally responsible for what (...) they do because their intentional behavior is a matter of luck. The accounts scrutinized include a Kane-type event-causal view, Clarke’s account that appeals to both agent causation and event causation in the production of free action, and O’Connor’s pure agent-causal account. I conclude by discussing an advantage these libertarian accounts enjoy over compatibilist contenders: they possess a feature necessary to accommodate the truth of judgments of moral obligation. (shrink)
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons.1 That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop other dispositions, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. To say it again, a person has a free will just in case her character is the product of (...) decisions that she could have rationally avoided making. That one’s character is the product of such decisions entails ultimate responsibility for its manifestations, engendering a free will. (shrink)
Intellectual property has become the apple of discord in today’s moral and political debates. Although it has been approached from many different perspectives, a final conclusion has not been reached. In this paper I will offer a new way of thinking about intellectual property rights (IPRs), from a left-libertarian perspective. My thesis is that IPRs are not (natural) original rights, aprioric rights, as it is usually argued. They are derived rights hence any claim for intellectual property is weaker than the (...) correlative duties attached to self-ownership and world-ownership rights, which are of crucial importance in any left-libertarian view. Moreover, IPRs lack priority in front of these two original rights and should be overridden by stronger claims of justice. Thus, as derived rights, IPRs should not benefit of strong enforcement like any original rights especially if it could be in the latters’ detriment. (shrink)
The “problem of present luck” targets a standard libertarian thesis about free will. It has been argued that there is an analogous problem about luck for compatibilists. This article explores similarities and differences between the alleged problems.
This paper is my last word, in the present journal, in the debate I have been having with Walter Block on the subject of evictionism as an alleged libertarian “third way,” capable of transcending the familiar “pro-life” and “pro-choice” dichotomy. In this debate, I myself defended what might be regarded as a qualified “pro-life” position, while Block consistently argued that the mother is morally allowed to expel the fetus from her womb provided that no non-lethal methods of its eviction are (...) available. While my position articulated in this paper contains an element of what Block might consider a concession on my part—i.e., an explicit declaration that abstaining from lethal evictions of fetuses conceived as a result of rape is a libertarian duty, but only an imperfect one—I continue to regard the unqualified support of evictionism as indefensible on libertarian grounds. (shrink)
Left-libertarian theories of justice hold that agents are full self-owners and that natural resources are owned in some egalitarian manner. Unlike most versions of egalitarianism, leftlibertarianism endorses full self-ownership, and thus places specific limits on what others may do to one’s person without one’s permission. Unlike the more familiar right-libertarianism (which also endorses full self-ownership), it holds that natural resources—resources which are not the results of anyone's choices and which are necessary for any form of activity—may be privately appropriated (...) only with the permission of, or with a significant payment to, the members of society. Like right-libertarianism, left-libertarianism holds that the basic rights of individuals are ownership rights. Such rights can endow agents—as liberalism requires—with spheres of personal liberty where they may each pursue their conceptions of “the good life”. Left-libertarianism is promising because it coherently underwrites both some demands of material equality and some limits on the permissible means of promoting this equality. It is promising, that is, because it is a form of liberal egalitarianism. Left-libertarian theories have been propounded for over two centuries. Early exponents of some form of self-ownership combined with some form of egalitarian ownership of natural resources include: Hugo Grotius (1625), Samuel Pufendorf (1672), John Locke (1690), William Ogilvie (1781), Thomas Spence (1793), Thomas Paine (1795), Hippolyte de Colins (1835), François Huet (1853), Patrick E. Dove (1850, 1854), Herbert Spencer (1851), Henry George (1879, 1892), and Léon Walras (1896).1 It is striking how much of the current debate about equality, liberty, and responsibility has already been addressed by these authors. (shrink)
From a left-libertarian perspective, it seems almost impossible for states to acquire political authority. For that reason, left-libertarians like Peter Vallentyne understandably hope that states without political authority could nonetheless implement left-libertarian justice. Vallentyne has argued that one can indeed assess a state’s justness without assessing its political authority. Against Vallentyne, I try to show that states without political authority have to be judged unjust even if they successfully promote justice. The reason is that institutions can be unjust independently from (...) what they achieve or do: they can be ‘intrinsically unjust’. Institutions, I argue, are intrinsically unjust when they have legal liberties and powers without having the corresponding moral liberties and powers. States without political authority are intrinsically unjust in that sense. Hence the issues of a state’s justness and a state’s political authority cannot be dealt with separately. This is a problem not only for left-libertarians but for ‘philosophical anarchism’ more generally. (shrink)
Free determined decisions are free decisions that are causally determined by the character of the agent. Robert Kane is a libertarian about free will who believes some of our free decisions are determined in this way. According to Kane, for a determined decision to be free it must proceed from the agent's character and the agent must have shaped that character through previous undetermined free decisions. In recent writings, Mark Balaguer has argued that human beings may well possess libertarian freedom, (...) but he rejects Kane's view that free determined acts must proceed from a character that is constructed from prior undetermined free decisions. This essay explains Balaguer's argument for rejecting the Kanean view and critically responds to it in defense of Kane's position on free determined decisions. (shrink)