Abstract: In this paper we assume the contours of the libertarian philosophy, its view toward the unjustified state, and, also, the punishment theory of this perspective. We address the narrow question of what punishment is justified for partaking in statist activities.
Archives for February 2009
Abstract: This paper, by the late Bruno Leoni, was originally published in the Italian journal Il Politico in 1966. In the article, Leoni reviews H.L.A. Hart’s The Concept of Law (1961). Hart first analyzes the concept of law by resorting to the classical concept of “obligation.” But he later tries a “fresh start” by resorting to the concept of “secondary rules.” In his review, Leoni argues that the former attempt is confronted with serious difficulties, and that the latter attempt (to which professor Hart possibly resorts in view of overcoming some of said difficulties) is ultimately inconsistent with the former.
Download Paper: “On A Recent Theory of ‘Legal Obligation'”
Abstract: This paper, by the late Bruno Leoni, was originally presented at a special meeting of the Mont Pèlerin Society (Tokyo, Sept. 5–10, 1966), and was originally published in the Italian journal Il Politico in 1966. The paper displays Leoni’s fondness for Chinese culture, and is essentially a defense of the unity of mankind. Westerners are often of the belief that the Occidental, or Western, individual freedom-based view of liberty is distinct from the Oriental (Eastern) view of liberty. Leoni challenges this perspective. Mill believed that disregard for custom was what made the West both free and different from the rest of the world, while the Oriental approach is more backward and based on blind respect for customs. However, custom has often been invoked both in the East and in the West to oppose and limit the power of tyrants, and to defend or to secure civil or political liberty. Mill argued that disregard of custom accounts for novelty, novelty for diversity of character and culture, and the latter for freedom and progress, but there was an unsurpassed diversity of character and culture when Oriental and Occidental people were put together under the rule of the Roman emperors. Furthermore, the “Orient” was not monotonous, dull, and homogeneous, as Mill presumed; to the contrary, Europe cannot show in any period of its history a variety of races, languages, cultures, philosophies and religions even slightly comparable to those of India or China. In fact, Buddha and Confucius were both concerned mainly with individual freedom. Confucius’s theory of society, in particular, was very individualistic; he clearly formulated for the first time in recorded history that principle of “reciprocity,” the “golden rule” for any liberal society. He maintained that the very fundamental principle for a happy society is “Not doing to others what one does not wish them do to one’s self.” Confucius shared, along with the greatest masters of liberal thought in the West, an almost unlimited confidence in education. He believed that everybody could be educated in principle, regardless of his condition, and that coercion is a very limited means of establishing a good society. Though the social and political theories of Confucius in sixth century B.C. China were not the same as those of modern Western liberals, Confucius had a clear and liberal idea of the unsurpassable limits of government in any desirable society. He made quite clear that the government existed for the people and not the people for the government, that no hereditary power whatsoever, but the happiness of the people provided a justification for the rulers. Like Western liberal democracy, Confucianism values freedom and the individual, and denies unlimited authority to the State. In fact, the entire humanistic and liberal background out of which Western democracy grew has much in common with the best traditions of Chinese thought. Ultimately, what is really relevant is neither East nor West, or any other geographical or historical limitation. It is human nature itself.
Download Paper: “Two Views of Liberty, Occidental and Oriental (?)”
Abstract: George Reisman’s magnum opus Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics is a monumental attempt at theoretical integration of leading economic phenomena into one unified whole. Few such books have been published in the history of economics. Still fewer of them contain a comparable proportion of path-breaking innovations both in approach and substance that are integrated in a tightly-spun system of thought that Capitalism does. Yet despite its numerous path-breaking contributions to economic theory, the book has attracted virtually zero attention from the scientific community. History shows that for the most part this has been the fate of all great innovations in science. This review attempts (a) to point out reasons why the book’s content is revolutionary, and (b) to finally start a serious discussion of its substantive ideas. Specifically, the review focuses in some detail on some of Reisman’s most important innovations which all point the way to a wholly new direction in economic theory that promises to provide the hitherto unseen conformity with empirical reality, analytical rigor, and doctrinal integration.
Abstract: Anthony de Jasay is among the most important social thinkers of our time. His oeuvre offers a sustained critique of government and its defenders. In the book Ordered Anarchy: Jasay and His Surroundings, colleagues and friends pay tribute to the man in the form of an inspiring collection of essays.
Download Paper: “Review of Ordered Anarchy: Jasay and his Surroundings”
Market anarchists are often keen to know how we might rid ourselves of the twin evils institutionalized in the state: taxation and monopoly. A possible future history for North America is suggested, focusing upon the implications of the establishment of a subscription-based patrol and restitution business sector. We favor Rothbard over Higgs regarding crises and liberty. We favor Barnett over Rothbard regarding vertical integration of security. We examine derived demand for adjudication, mediation and related goods; and we advance the thesis that private adjudication will tend to libertarianly just decisions. We show how firms will actively build civil society, strengthening and coordinating Nisbettian intermediating institutions.
Abstract: The libertarian first principle—a belief in individual freedom—can lead to two different and not necessarily acceptable societies from the standpoint of liberty. One is the “Union of Liberty,” in which communities, associations, and intermediate bodies are held to rigorous standards of voluntariness (and thus face sharp limits on their internal associational freedom because of the knowledge that children will be born into them). In the other, the “Federation of Liberty,” they are not (thereby allowing children to be born into locally unfree environments).
While in any free society individuals may voluntarily join together and waive some of their rights (in institutions such as contract or marriage, for example), hard questions arise when nonconsenting children are born into restrictive environments that their parents may have voluntarily created. An adult who gives up all of his or her property to a communal religious body upon conversion has made a voluntary choice, but what about the child born into that religious community later on? Thus, the Federation of Liberty can, in theory, turn out to contain no communities that actually value or respect liberty; and even slavery might have a lawful place within it. The Union of Liberty, on the other hand, can, in principle turn out to be society ruled by a strong authority with little respect for dissenting moral traditions, including some self-styled libertarian moral traditions.
Libertarians face a stark choice between these “two constructions of libertarianism”; there is no third way, theoretically speaking. Libertarians must choose one of them. Given the necessity to choose one of these constructions, the Federation of Liberty is arguably preferable to the Union of Liberty.
Download Paper: “Two Constructions of Libertarianism”
Abstract: In his Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (1967, p.168), Nobel Prize laureate Friedrich A. von Hayek explains that “from the first establishment of (trade) which served reciprocal but not common purposes, a process has been going on for millennia which, by making rules of conduct independent of the particular purposes of those concerned, made it possible to extend these rules to ever wider circles of undetermined persons and eventually might make possible a universal peaceful order of the world.”
Today, we can denominate this the process of globalization, understanding as such the process that arises spontaneously in the market and acts by developing a progressive international division of labour, eliminating restrictions on individual liberties, reducing transportation and communication costs, and increasingly integrating the individuals that compose the “great society.”
The purpose of the present essay is to attempt to deepen in this Hayekian thesis and approximate an explanation of why the said process could lead to world peace. To be consistent with Hayek’s works, we must conduct a multidisciplinary analysis of the process under consideration; analysis which must necessarily include a historical reference, an economic study, a legal approach, and finally the consideration of its cultural implications.
Download Paper: “Globalization and Peace: A Hayekian Perspective”