Abstract: 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.
Abstract: This essay examines several sections in Will Kymlicka’s Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (2nd ed.) that are relevant to libertarianism, making and explaining the following criticisms. First, Kymlicka’s “preface” misconstrues political philosophy’s progress, purpose, and its relation to libertarianism. Second, in his “introduction,” his “project” mistakes libertarianism as “right-wing,” justice as compromise among “existing theories,” and equality as the “ultimate value.” Third, 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. Finally, Kymlicka’s chapter on “libertarianism” mistakes it as, inherently and unavoidably, free-market, anti-consequentialist, deontological, and Nozickian, and requiring “a foundational moral premiss,” without objective content, unmaximizable, 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.
Download Paper: “Kymlicka on Libertarianism: A Response”