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.
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.
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.
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.