Abstract: Klein and Clark (2010) initiated a debate about libertarian theory to which this paper hopes to add. Starting with the old libertarian principle of “direct liberty” (adherence to the non-aggression principle) Klein and Clark introduced two new concepts to complete it: “indirect liberty,” and also direct liberty plus indirect liberty, which sums to “overall liberty.” In my critique of this article of theirs (Block, 2011A), I congratulated them for their creativity, but rejected these innovations. In Klein and Clark (2012), these authors responded to my initial criticism. The present essay hopes to fruitfully continue the discussion of these new concepts of liberty.
Abstract: Most people are aware of the pro-choice and the pro-life perspectives on abortion. But there is a third one, based on libertarianism called evictionism. I have written on this philosophy on numerous occasions (Block, 1977, 1978, 2004, 2008, 2010A, 2010B, 2010C, 2011, forthcoming, Block and Whitehead, 2005). Wisniewski (2010A, 2010B, 2011) has criticized this viewpoint. The present essay is a response to Wisniewski (2011).
Download Paper: “Response to Wisniewski on Abortion, Round Three”
Abstract: Evictionist theory allows the mother of an unwanted fetus not to kill it (abortion equals eviction plus killing) but to at any time evict it from her womb, even if it sometimes means the death of the latter. Departurism is incompatible with that philosophy. Parr supports the latter theory. The present paper is devoted to a refutation of that perspective.
Abstract: David Friedman attacks deontological or principled libertarianism from a utilitarian point of view. The present essay is an attempt to refute his critique of this philosophy, and to cast aspersions on the utilitarian version of libertarianism he favors.
Download Paper: “David Friedman and Libertarianism: A Critique“
Abstract: William Easterly has a reputation of being a free enterprise oriented economist. Were this not the case, his 2006 book The White Man’s Burden would not have been such a disappointment. In the event, this author misunderstands economic planning; buys into the fallacious notion of the poverty trap (poor nations are too poverty stricken to develop on their own without help from others – how did England manage this?); accepts a positive role for government in development, just as does Easterly’s target, Jeffrey Sachs; calls for state investment in early education; extols the virtues of democracy; attacks the idea of private fire companies, among many other compromises with dirigisme. With friends like this, laissez faire capitalism hardly needs enemies.
Download PDF: “Review of Easterly’s The White Man’s Burden”
Abstract: The lynchpin perhaps even the very foundation of free market environmentalism is the tragedy of the commons. If we do not have private property rights in land, endangered animal species, fish, trees, etc., then there will be a real danger, as the left wing environmentalists charge, of extinction of these resources. Prof. Eleanor Ostrom attempts to show that this is not so; that private property rights are not at all needed if we are to escape environmental degradation of this sort. The present essay is not so much book review as it is an attempt to refute Ostrom, and thereby defend private property rights. In her view, communal rights will suffice; private property is not needed. My claim is that she is incapable of properly distinguishing between stockholders, or partnerships, or groups of people who together own private property, on the one hand, from, on the other hand, communal ownership.
Download Paper: “Review of Ostrom’s Governing the Commons“
Abstract: The two main views on the abortion controversy are pro life and pro choice. In my many previous writings on this subject (Block, 1977, 1978, 2001, 2004, 2008, 2010A, 2010B, 2010C, forthcoming; Block and Whitehead, 2005) I have offered a third alternative, evictionism. Wisniewski (2010A) has offered criticisms of this perspective. In Block (2010C) I argued against Wisniewski (2010A), claiming that evictionism was the correct libertarian analysis of this vexing question. Wisniewski (2010B) constituted a rejoinder to Block (2010C), insisting that evictionism constituted an incorrect analysis. The present paper is a response to Wisniewski (2010B), in which I again attempt to defend evictionism against his attacks on this doctrine.
Download Paper: “Response to Wisniewski on Abortion, Round Two”
Abstract: Milton Friedman had long declared himself a small “l” libertarian (to distinguish himself from members of the Libertarian Party). But, libertarianism is based on the twin pillars of the non aggression axiom and private property predicated on homesteading and peaceful exchange. Friedman adopts none of this. Instead, he undergirds his philosophy on “tolerance,” which is no part of libertarianism. Thus, his claim to the mantle of libertarianism, big or small “L” it matters not which, is called into question.
Download PDF: Milton Friedman on Intolerance: A Critique
Abstract: In Block (2010) I offered a compromise between the pro choice position that fervently supports stem cell research, and the pro life philosophy which bitterly opposes it. The compromise was a contest: allow would be researchers to create as many fertilized eggs as they wished. But, also, these should be offered up to would be parents to adopt all of these “children” as they wanted. If and only if there were any unadopted fetuses remaining in the laboratories of the nation would it be licit, on libertarian grounds, for research on them to take place. In the present paper I respond to several objections to this “modest proposal.”
Download PDF: Objections to the Libertarian Stem Cell Compromise
Abstract: I have published more than just a few papers on the abortion issue. Instead of taking either the pro choice or the pro life position, I offer a third alternative: evictionism. I claim that this perspective, which, as it happens is a principled compromise between the other two positions, is the only one compatible with libertarianism. Wisniewski (2010) offers several not unreasonable challenges to my thesis. The present paper is my attempt to refute each and every one of them.
Download PDF: “Rejoinder to Wisniewski on Abortion”
Abstract: Borer (2010) launches a spirited attack on my own promulgation and defense of the non aggression principle (NAP) as the lynchpin of libertarianism, as adumbrated in several of my published papers (Block, 2009A, 2010). The two of us, Borer and me, in my opinion, achieve real disagreement, a goal not always reached in the libertarian debates. That is, Borer (2010) is succinct, on point, and offers a real challenge to those of us in the Rothbardian tradition, who see the NAP as the very basis of the libertarian philosophy. The present paper is an attempt to refute each and every one of the challenges offered by Borer (2010).
Download PDF: “Rejoinder to Borer on the NAP”
Abstract: A grabs B and uses him as a body shield. That is, A hides behind B (A renders B helpless to resist his grasp), and from that vantage point, shoots at C. According to libertarian theory, may B shoot at C, or, is it proper that C pull the trigger at B? In the view of Rothbard (1984), the former is correct: B is entitled to gun down C. In my (Block, forthcoming) view, this is incorrect. Rather, it would be lawful to C to properly kill B. (Both Rothbard and I assume that neither B nor C can end A’s reign of terror). Jakobsson (2010) supports the Rothbardian position. The present paper is at an attempt of mine to refute Jakobsson, and, thus, also, Rothbard (1984), once again.
Download Paper: “Response to Jakobsson on Human Body Shields”
Abstract: Libertarianism Today, by Jacob Huebert (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010), is an excellent introduction to libertarianism. In contrast to many other recent books about libertarianism, a consistent non-compromising libertarianism is defended throughout this book.
Download Paper: 19. “Review of Huebert’s Libertarianism Today”
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: 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: Matt Mortellaro’s “Causation and Responsibility: A New Direction” is a brilliant Rothbardian analysis that makes numerous new and important points. It also critiques some of my own previous publications. In this piece I focus on Mortellaro’s rejoinders to me, and set forth a defense of my own positions.
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.