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Archives for 2010
The O.P. Alford III Prize in Libertarian Scholarship is a $1000 prize awarded by the Mises Institute each year for the the article published in the preceding volume of Libertarian Papers that best advances libertarian scholarship, as chosen by the journal’s Editor and Editorial Board.
There were forty-four articles were published in Libertarian Papers in 2009. The 2009 award was given by Mises Institute President Doug French at the Austrian Scholars Conference 2010 to Gil Guillory and Patrick C. Tinsley, for their article “The Role of Subscription-Based Patrol and Restitution in the Future of Liberty.” This paper is a pioneering effort to advance the theory of the private production of justice. Guillory and Tinsley integrate and blend the theoretical and the practical, and set forth a detailed and practical plan to begin to establish such private institutions. Their article is creative and bold, informed by existing libertarian theory while extending it. As one member of the journal’s Editorial Board noted, “This paper presents a carefully worked out business plan for organisations that would provide an effective, superior alternative for tax-funded monopolies in deterring common types of crime and providing restitution to victims of such crimes. It is an original and path-breaking effort not only because of its concern with practical matters but also because of its deep understanding of the issues involved in developing a libertarian theory of social organization. While the paper’s primary focus is on the United States of America, a relatively young but highly developed and complex society, it opens up lines of enquiry and suggests methods that are bound to be of interest to libertarians everywhere.” Guillory and Tinsley are to be commended for their careful, meticulous, and systematic study.
Abstract: Aristotelian ethics is still very promising, mainly because of its meta-ethical naturalism. As in medicine, what’s good versus bad is based on knowledge of the nature of something. With the addition of a strong doctrine of voluntary action, the morally good life is one within which one pursues one’s human flourishing (by means of practicing the virtues). An obstacle is Aristotle’s essentialism whereby he stresses what is distinctive about human beings, not what is a matter of their nature, as the standard of right versus wrong conduct. If this is amended in Aristotle what emerges is what some have called a genuine naturalist, biocentric ethical eudaimonism. Here I sketch the case for this amended Aristotelian ethical view.
Download Paper: “A Problem With Aristotle’s Ethical Essentialism”
Abstract: Accused by Tibor Machan of equivocation and psychologising in Machan’s 2008 book Anarchism/Minarchism, Nicholas Dykes rebuts both charges and suggests that, on the former charge, it is rather Professor Machan himself who equivocates.
Abstract: The recently rediscovered Michigan-born poet, essayist, and political philosopher, Voltairine de Cleyre (1866-1912) has been celebrated by modern scholars as both an anarchist and a feminist. In this paper, however, it is argued that detailed scrutiny of her writings perhaps suggests de Cleyre, who spent much of her life in Philadelphia, was consistently an anarchist thinker, but that her ideas are not nearly so compatible with feminism as they have been portrayed.
Abstract: With the publication in 1976 of George H. Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, interest in post-WWII opposition to the dominant liberal consensus of the time has steadily grown. Most commentators on the subject, in the attempt to construct a coherent narrative, try to find the shared values that united the conservative movement in the early Cold War era. Invariably, they regard, in Nash’s word, the “cement” of conservatism in this period as anticommunism. Three other subjects, however, hold a greater claim than anticommunism in fusing together the disparate strands of conservative thought. Two of them, constitutionalism and opposition to the aims and methods of the United Nations, are topics for another essay. This article deals with a third conservative “impulse”; a disdain for the use of the power of the state, and cultural pressures, in forcing Americans to conform to the strictures of a liberal-dominated society. Focusing on conservative critics of education, the arts, mass media, social scientists, and the economy, the article contends that “anticommonism” helped tie together a conservative intellectual movement after 1945, because anticommunism could not.
Abstract: When an economy is at the upper part of the Laffer curve, a reduction in tax rates will, somewhat paradoxically, lead to a rise in the amount of money, both relatively and absolutely, the taxpayer will retain, but, also, to an increase in government revenues collected. The former result is a welcome one, from the libertarian perspective, not so the latter. Does this example exhibit a slight anomaly for the free enterprise philosophy (a rare case when a reduction in statism does not lead, unambiguously, to benefits), or does it furnish a true conundrum. The present paper argues that both are true.
Download PDF: “Is There an ‘Anomalous’ Section of the Laffer Curve?”
Abstract: The dominant tradition in Western philosophy sees rationality as dictating. Thus rationality may require that we believe the best explanation and simple conceptual truths and that we infer in accordance with evident rules of inference. I argue that, given what we know about the growth of knowledge, this authoritarian concept of rationality leads to absurdities and should be abandoned. I then outline a libertarian concept of rationality, derived from Popper, which eschews the dictates and which sees a rational agent as one who questions, criticises, conjectures and experiments. I argue that, while the libertarian approach escapes the absurdities of the authoritarian, it requires two significant developments and an important clarification to be made fully consistent with itself.
Download PDF: “Two Concepts of Rationality”
Abstract: Van Dun rejects private road ownership on the ground that owners will trap homeowners whose property abuts their thoroughfares. The present paper rejects this claim, and demonstrates that a free enterprise system of private ownership will maximize the welfare of householders, not minimize it.
Download PDF: “Van Dun on Freedom and Property: A Critique”
Abstract: Carnis (2009) is a commentary on a debate I (Block and Block, 1976; Block, 1978c) have been having with Tullock (1976) on the privatization of roads. The present paper is a rejoinder to Carnis (2009) who is highly critical of Tullock’s share of the debate, and offers some luke-warm support of my side of this issue, plus some criticisms of it.
Download PDF: “Rejoinder to Carnis on Private Roads”
Abstract: Authors in the Austrian tradition have made the credit expansion of a fractional reserve banking system as the prime cause of business cycles. Authors such as Selgin (1988) and White (1999) have argued that a solution to this problem would be a free banking system. They maintain that the competition between banks would limit the credit expansion effectively. Other authors such as Rothbard (1991) and Huerta de Soto (2006) have gone further and advocated a 100 percent reserve banking system ruling out credit expansion altogether. In this article it is argued that a 100 percent reserve system can still bring about business cycles through excessive maturity mismatching between deposits and loans.
Abstract: In 2007, I toured Moundsville Penitentiary, a tourist spectacle that was once—and fairly recently—a working prison. I wrote about the experience as would a journalist, except that my working paradigm was the postmodern theory of hyperreality, which Jean Baudrillard used to describe the complex tensions between reality and illusion. A term of semiotics, hyperreality refers to the disappearance of the referent and its subsequent, oft-replicated simulation. It almost always involves strategically controlled images that distort and conceal true meaning. The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies published my essay in January 2009. Shortly thereafter, many of my libertarian friends and colleagues wrote to ask for clarification or to express their disagreements. In what follows, whether I’m describing hyperreality or speculating about the horror-themed attractions at Moundsville Penitentiary, my principal concern is laying the libertarian foundation for my argument. I do not mean to defend my theories so much as explain them; nor do I insist that my cultural criticism is somehow “the” right way. I simply hope to fill a critical vacuum and to generate conversation not only about the condition of the American prison system writ large, but also about state-run tourist attractions that glorify the history of the sovereign at the expense of real knowledge about human suffering.
Libertarian Papers was launched a year ago, in late January 2009. I’d like to explain how the journal came to be. It was born in a 15-minute IM chat. The ideas tumbled out effortlessly and quickly because their time had come. FULL ARTICLE by Stephan Kinsella.