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 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)
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.
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)
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 a proactive imposition (albeit trivial) if someone inflicts it on non-consenting people. 2.3 The objective and subjective aspects of proactive 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. Readers that might be interested include those engaging in libertarian philosophy and those using the Rothbardian/Blockian theoretical approach to libertarianism. (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)
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)
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)
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)
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). *** "Lester’s Two Dialogues are about philosophy, first, and politics, second. The first is intensely Popperian, and the second intensely libertarian-anarchic. Both are extremely enlightening, very convincing, and highly entertaining—while being short enough to read in one go. Do read them!" Professor Jan Narveson (philosopher and libertarian). (shrink)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
Numerous scholars, representing various fields of knowledge, have studied the Holocaust and published extensively on this subject since the end of the Second World War. Many original Holocaust documents, diaries and memoirs of victims and survivors have been edited and published, along with numerous historical, philosophical and theological treaties on the Shoah. The goal of this paper is to present psychology’s contribution to the study of the Holocaust. The authors discuss results of empirical research and clinical observations concerning the long-term (...) consequences of this trauma (the KZ/survivor syndrome), adaptation and coping skills of survivors, the phenomenon of transgenerational transmission of trauma and intrapsychic and interpersonal functioning of the children of survivors (the Second Generation). They present epidemiological data and psychological mechanisms of attempted and committed suicide among the Jews during the persecutions and deportations, as well as suicide in the ghettos and concentration camps, and among the Holocaust survivors. In the paper a short description ofpsychotherapy and other forms of psychological help available to the Holocaust survivors and their children is also presented. Last but not least, it is discussed how the knowledge of the psycho-social consequences of the Holocaust can be used by psychologists in their work with victims and survivors of other genocides and traumas. (shrink)
SummaryIn a time series study of the USA from 1933 to 1984, fertility rates were associated with the suicide rates of those aged 15–44. The higher the fertility rate the lower the suicide rate for these age groups, for both whites and non-whites, and for both men and women. The results were seen as supporting Durkheim's theory of suicide.