Abstract: Though lobbying for federal money may seem like business as usual today–with billions of dollars spent annually by companies, labor unions, and other organizations in an effort to win a piece of what has become an enormous federal pie–this was not always the case in the United States. An all-but-forgotten event, the Harrisburg Convention of 1827, may have been one of the key historical turning points in this regard, an opening of a floodgate that would transform the role of the U.S. federal government forever. It was in the modest Pennsylvania capital that a hundred of the North’s most influential manufacturers and public servants–backed by legislators like Henry Clay and Daniel Webster–assembled to draft a “memorial” to Congress, imploring that body to pass a protectionist bill to save their industries from what they viewed as eventual ruin. As Jonathan J. Pincus observed and Thornton and Ekelund echoed, “it is not small cohesive individual groups but larger diverse ones that are necessary in order to effectively lobby representatives and senators to obtain majority coalitions” in comprehensive legislation. The convention would bring together this “larger diverse” group—with just such a legislative goal. Meanwhile, mostly in the South, anti-protectionist opinion continued to surge. The Harrisburg Convention of 1827 would lead to the passage of that most hated piece of protectionist legislation—the “Tariff of Abominations” of 1828–and it would do so by framing the protectionist agenda into a nationalist “cause” borne of “patriotic duty.”
Abstract: The human body shield problem involves an apparent dilemma for a libertarian, forcing him to choose between his own death and the death of an innocent person. This paper argues that the non-aggression principle permits a forceful response against the property of innocent individuals when a conflict is initiated with that property. In other words, a libertarian may shoot the hostage in order to save himself.
Download Paper: 20. “The Human Body Sword”
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: This paper examines rights and the protection of rights from both the minarchist and the anarchist perspectives. The former relies on Objectivist (and Neo-Objectivist) perspectives and the latter relies primarily on Murray Rothbard’s views. My view is that government protection as put forth by Objectivists is coercive, as are all methods of financing. However, under anarcho-capitalism, children (and those with diminished capacity) who have been killed or abused by their caregivers do not have equal (or any) protection under the law. The principle of equal protection is one with which both Objectivists and Rothbard agree. A case is made for government protection of rights under those circumstances. In addition, a case is made for positive rights to parental care for children, and also for government protection of those rights if they have been violated by their caregivers. I also argue for government oversight in instances when the rights of children (and those with diminished capacity) have been violated and as a consequence the children (and those with diminished capacity) have no alternative means of care.
Download Paper: “Rand, Rothbard, and Rights Reconsidered”
Abstract: This paper is a presentation and an interpretation of Murray Rothbard’s views on the relation between the fiscal necessities brought by war and interventionism in Money and Banking as read from his book A History of Money and Banking in the United States.
Abstract: The present paper offers a critique of Block on the issues of abortion and child abandonment. Block regards aborting a fetus or abandoning a child as an instance of exercising one’s libertarian right of expelling trespassers from one’s private property. I argue that the above reasoning is flawed due to the lack of the appreciation of the fact that if one voluntarily initiates the causal chain which leads to someone else ending up on his property, the latter person cannot be considered a trespasser. Furthermore, in the light of the above observation, any direct effects resulting from that person’s eviction should be considered the responsibility of the property’s owner. All of this follows from the simple logical fact that in all links of the causal chain under consideration the owner is the ultimate causal agent.
Download Paper: “A Critique of Block on Abortion and Child Abandonment”
Abstract: Modern military engagements are made possible by a state’s ability to easily acquire revenue. By either taking the money from its citizens via taxation, borrowing funds through bonds or loans from private financiers or other governments, or inflating the currency by issuing bank notes without the backing of specie or another commodity, Western governments wield enough power over money and banking to fund any venture. British involvement in the Napoleonic Wars was no exception to the rule. This paper examines the role of the British government, including William Pitt and Parliament, and the Bank of England in manipulating the currency, by borrowing, taxing, and issuing Bank notes to fund the war with Napoleonic France in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Abstract: Murray N. Rothbard argued that there are many philosophic and non-philosophic arguments that provide a satisfactory basis for individual liberty. Rarely, however, did he discuss the claims of Christianity to be a suitable foundation for individual freedom. By looking at the Christian libertarians of the Old Right, between 1950 and 1971, the article contends that religious values were the most important reason for libertarians pursuing a society composed of free individuals during that period. By examining the journals Faith and Freedom, Christian Economics, and the Freeman, and the positive views of Rev. Carl McIntire, the author explains the philosophy of Christian libertarianism. It is the belief that individual freedom is only the highest political end; the necessary means for God’s Creation to develop unhindered their conscience and the full ‘sacredness of their personality.’ Christian libertarians maintain that individuals cannot be coerced by government to lead a virtuous life. They must instead be persuaded, by a true understanding of the life of Jesus especially, to choose to follow the moral life sanctioned by the Bible. The desire to follow the Golden Rule voluntarily, Christian libertarians explain, is the God-given template that allows a society of individuals to live in freedom. It was this Christian ethic, Christian libertarians insist, couched in terms of the Natural Law, that inspired the founding fathers to establish a system of government where the individual is free to enjoy their ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ The article concludes by discussing Frank S. Meyer’s ‘fusionist’ attempt to find a uniting theme for traditionalists and libertarians, and suggests that it was the Christian libertarian philosophy in all but name. It also suggests that if America has any valid claim to be ‘Exceptional,’ then it is based on the nation’s traditional defence of individual freedom as a God-given grant.
Abstract: In his paper, “Is There an ‘Anomalous’ Section of the Laffer Curve?”, Walter Block describes some situations in which it appears that a libertarian should violate the non-aggression principle. To rectify this, Block proposes a different perspective on libertarianism which he calls punishment theory. This paper argues that no new theory is needed, as the non-aggression principle can be used to resolve the apparent conundrums.
Download Paper: “Risking Aggression: Reply to Block”
Abstract: In this paper, the logical structure of ethics and economics as one unified science is investigated and found to be inhomogeneously represented in Austroliberal literature. This structure is here built from axioms, deductions, and definitions: It is first established in its self-supportive bareness, secondly represented by pivotal passages of libertarian literature, and then widened by a third axiom in addition to the classical first axiom of action and the second axiom of variety. This third axiom and the deduction that follows deal with supra-individual risks for the core of self-ownership and reflect on equality of inalienable, as opposed to alienable, property.
Liberty is found to be a dispensable term. Instead, self-ownership is the pivotal notion on which civilized, contractual society is founded: the rock bottom of is propositions as opposed to ought propositions. Alienable property is identified as the only effective, coessential, and congeneric protective mantle around inalienable self-ownership. Equality, with respect to this core of self-ownership, could possibly turn out to be the philosophical foundation for the claim by any ethical norm to hold true for all equally.
It is the present author’s hope that, by reinforcing and emphasizing the idea of self-ownership rather than the idea of liberty, this article will foster a greater acceptance for the libertarian desire for contractual solutions to social problems.
Abstract: Using the concept of purposeful action, I define the necessary and sufficient aspects of any property. These qualities are derived though noticing that property is those things which are the object of a set of past, present, and future actions of individuals. The result is that property is the result of a change in the physical world which lends itself to control and is expected to grant a future value to the actor. By deconstruction, these qualities are used to show that aggression upon another actor is equivalent to a property claim in that other actor, enforcement of a property claim may involve an aggression, and conflicting aggressions may only be compared subjectively. Thus the novel concept of net coercion is introduced to delineate which actors are making an over-reaching property claim. This incorporates the common term of aggression as used by modern libertarian theorists, but allows for a further analysis when there are conflicts of possible or perceived aggressions; certainly attempting to minimize the net coercion of a system of actors is equivalent to the special case of striving for zero-aggression. After establishing the value-free concepts that entail property regimes I define the seeking of justice as trying to minimize the net coercion of any system. From this single necessary definition of justice, a number of problems are analyzed including the stereotypical commons, a construction equivalent to hostile encirclement, and claims of property in intellectual creations. The ultimate conclusion of this analysis is that property regimes with a positive net coercion are unjust and equivalent to property claims in the individual actors subject to the more aggressive actors, in essence, that they are the chattel slaves of the dominant actors in proportion to the amount of net coercion used against them. From these foundations, a philosophical system by which to analyze particular property claims is created and a suggestion of how law and economics should treat property claims is implicit.
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.