Abstract: In “Property, Causality, and Liability” and “Causation and Aggression,” Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Stephan Kinsella & Patrick Tinsley, respectively, argue against the Rothbardian position on criminal liability, especially with regard to the issue of incitement. This essay takes a critical look at the suggested approaches of both and attempts to defend the Rothbardian position on incitement from their criticisms. Further, this essay examines the views of Walter Block on incitement and attempts to correct inconsistencies in his position with regard to murder contracts and threats.
Abstract: Metaphysical libertarianism (hereafter ML) is the doctrine that human beings possess free will, that free will is incompatible with determinism, and that determinism is false. In this paper, I argue that the philosophical viability of political and economic libertarianism (hereafter PEL) depends on the viability of ML. Compatibilism is the doctrine that determinism is compatible with free will, and hence possibly also with PEL. I attempt to undermine this contention by exploring the relationship between compatibilism and prepunishment – i.e., the practice of punishing people before their commission of a crime. I make a claim that considerations of prepunishment, as well as related advance actions, which I collectively call “preactions”, not so much reveal and underscore the radical consequences of compatibilism, but rather, firstly, threaten its collapse into hard determinism, and secondly, cast a shadow of suspicion on determinism itself, thus opening some new, promising avenues for ML, and, by implication, securing the philosophical foundations of PEL.
Abstract: Kukathas, in “Two Constructions of Libertarianism,” concludes that “the choice confronting libertarians is an invidious one. … The Federation of Liberty can, in principle, turn out to contain no communities of that federation which 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.” However, no such choice needs to be made. The one libertarian principle calls upon us to permit all voluntary association. It allows intervention to correct involuntary association, except in the case of relations of parents and children, the latter being not yet exactly persons. But the criterion of voluntariness is difficult, since people frequently submit themselves to authorities, even to ones who are authorized by those persons to use force against them. And it does not require us to intervene to correct injustices generally.
It is not clear what a “libertarian community” would be, beyond one in which relations among individuals and groups are fundamentally voluntary. But there is no difference between (1) allowing and (2) forbidding the disallowing of various practices, and that is the distinction which in essence the Federation versus the Union is defined in terms of. And the question whether to attempt to realize the libertarian principle better by erecting a single government with the kind of authority governments by definition have, versus making do with a fully anarchic society, is, I think, not settled to this day. Fortunately, as I have argued, the choice is not required by the alternatives Professor Kukathas’s interesting essay poses for us. In short: the libertarian principle remains univocal: no aggression against those not themselves guilty of any aggression. And therefore, no aggression against those with whom we disagree, including about the legitimacy of the libertarian principle. But, certainly, we may use force against those who compel others to go along. The touchstone remains the liberty of the individual.
Abstract: Characterizing the libertarian ideal, Robert Nozick’s Minimal State has been a classic model wherein individual rights are taken for granted, from which state power is derivative, and legitimate only if it protects and reinforces individual rights. However, the “protection” is not so limited as it appears to be and the feedback from the state to individuals is not always positive. A microscopic analysis of the “protection” proffered by minimal state reveals three constituents (retribution, preemption and prevention or preventive restraints), with “preventive restraints” being the most controversial and extensive, and conflicting with the rights as “side-constraints”. By rejecting “utilitarianism of rights”, Nozick sets out to optimally secure rights, yet in so doing, he could hardly reconcile the clash between “constraints” and “restraints”, the inviolable rights supposed to be protected and the protective measures supposed to limit rights.
Abstract: This article responds to current critiques directed against Hoppe’s justification by performative contradiction of the self-ownership axiom. Maintaining that ethics should be grounded on sound principles, Hoppe observes that only self-ownership can pass the test of performative contradiction. From this idea, he concludes that only libertarianism (the ethical system grounded on the axiom of self-ownership) can be justified. Any other ethic is self-defeating. An important debate in ethics was stimulated by numerous critiques formulated against the performative contradiction and more precisely against the use that Hoppe makes of it in justifying libertarianism. Without endorsing Hoppe’s argumentation, this article prevents some common misunderstandings, systemizes the types of critiques and thoroughly replies to them.
Abstract: When H.-H. Hoppe claimed (in A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, 1989) that the principles of libertarianism were argumentatively irrefutable, both the logical coherence and the relevance of his “argument from argumentation” were criticized. While occasionally some of these criticisms still crop up, this paper defends Hoppe’s claim against them from the vantage point of the author’s own work (in Dutch) on the ethics of dialogue in the nineteen-seventies. It presents a more detailed and systematic presentation of the “argument from argumentation” than Hoppe had need for in the particular context of his book. It makes a distinction between arguments about principles and arguments about particular cases in which these principles may be invoked; and between the normative validity (as a matter of principle) of certain presumptions and the fact that in particular cases these presumptions hold only in principle and can be refuted by the evidence pertaining to the cases.
Abstract: This essay is intentionally one-sided. Almost all other essays by either defenders of capitalism (libertarians) or defenders of government (statists) are oppositely one-sided. They claim that capitalism’s voluntariness or government’s coerciveness mean that capitalism or government better fosters such things as art, happiness, education, jobs and world peace, and never much emphasise factors that may undermine their commentary. This essay emphasises the mitigating factors that others gloss over.
Arguments about the advantages or disadvantages of capitalism or government dominate political debate. This essay contends that these arguments, when they are not just about their author’s feelings, are usually incorrect or misleading. They often use value-judgments on behalf of others, disguised by false measures of happiness invented from economic data or surveys, and then applied across demographics and time. Another common error is to talk only of the positive side of something and ignore the negative. Libertarians spot these errors in statists, yet often do not hold themselves to the same standard.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Abstract: In this lecture delivered November 2008 on the occasion of the presentation of the Mises Institute’s Gary G. Schlarbaum Prize for lifetime achievement in the cause of liberty, Professor Salin discusses his discovery of Austrian economics and his involvement in “the world of individual liberty,” and draws various lessons from his intellectual journey. The coherence of Austrian economics appealed to Salin—it is not a patchwork of partial theories, but a logical process of thought founded on realistic assumptions about individual action. Salin also discusses differences between the Chicago and Austrian approaches, and his views about monetary systems.
The financial crisis beginning in late 2008 is not a crisis of capitalism, but of state intervention, caused by the expansionary monetary policy of the Fed. Capitalism is the solution, not the cause. There is no need to create money. There is never any balance of payments problem. What is required is tax systems more friendly to capital accumulation, a decrease in the role of the state, the end of monetary policy and, if possible, the disappearing of central banks and the IMF.
Abstract: The long stagflation in the nineteen-seventies broke the Keynesian hold on economic policy. Last year we witnessed the spectacular unraveling of neo-liberal policies of manipulating money and credit. While these episodes might be studied to explain the specific weaknesses and errors of each of the two policy paradigms that have dominated in the West after the Second World War, this lecture highlights the ideas and presuppositions that remained in place throughout the whole period. Despite the alliance that once existed between libertarians and classical liberals, on the one hand, and neo-liberals, on the other hand, the latter did not have sufficiently coherent conceptions of freedom and free markets to produce a true alternative for the Keynesian idea of a scientifically managed economy as a utilitarian and pragmatic approach to the utopian goal of the greatest happiness for the greatest number, i.e., complete well-being for all.
Abstract: In “Why Libertarians Should Reject Positive Rights,” Joshua Katz offers a critical response to the argument developed by Nicolás Maloberti in “Libertarianism and the Possibility of the Legitimate State.” In this rejoinder, Maloberti argues that Katz’s response fails on two accounts. First, it fails to grasp the nature of the problem his article was ultimately concerned with. Second, it fails to present a solid case for the rejection of the type of positive right that it was argued libertarians should endorse as a solution to that problem.
Abstract: Maloberti, in “Why Libertarians Should Accept Positive Rights” argues that, as normally presented, libertarianism entails anarchism. He argues that libertarians should, therefore, accept a limited form of positive rights, which will allow for the creation of a libertarian government. In this paper, it is argued that the entailment of anarchism is not a problem for libertarianism, and that the form of positive rights endorsed by Maloberti is unfounded, ill-defined, and inconsistent with libertarian notions of individual freedom. It is further argued that Maloberti’s positive rights, as defined in his paper, cannot withstand the analysis prompted by Austrian value theory.
Abstract: The classical formulation of libertarianism seems to be incompatible with the requirements of political legitimacy. Some libertarians have endorsed this result, denying that the state is legitimate. This paper argues, however, that the particular nature of that incompatibility represents a problem for the classical formulation of libertarianism. It is argued that acknowledging the existence of a particular minimal form of positive rights might overcome the problem in question. It is further argued that acknowledgment of such positive rights would seem to provide a more adequate normative ground for making sense of some central libertarian insights and concerns.