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Tuesday Links

  • Over at, Miles Pope has an ongoing series of blog posts on Jan Narveson’s unjustly neglected classic of contemporary libertarian thought – The Libertarian Idea.  Also on that site and well-worth following is George H. Smith’s Excursions series.  His latest post explores the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence.  Smith’s knowledge of the libertarian intellectual tradition is a spectacle to behold – he is always well worth reading.
  • The presentation I gave to Students for Liberty on “Libertarianism and the Left” is now available on YouTube for consumption at your leisure.
Published on:
Author: Matt Zwolinski
  • Georgian Tutuianu

    A mildly interesting note on Jan Narveson’s contractarianism based road to libertarianism. If unanimous agreement is required for establishing enforceable principles of justice then, enforceable principles of justice cannot exist among a heterogeneously diverse group of people who cannot come to agreement. This  may imply that enforcement of these principles in some areas may be illegitimate thereby limiting the power and/or size of the state or entity of enforcement. 

    Also the unanimous agreement constraint implies that legitimate self rule can only come through smaller groups of people who’ve agreed on their values/guiding principles and thus could prove to be a filter for any large non federalist based system of governance. 

    Just some food for thought.

  • Damien S.

    enforcement of these principles in some areas may be illegitimate

    Okay, say the Hatfields and McCoys can’t agree on principles of justice.  But they interact anyway.  What happens next?  I see the state being replaced by feuding and wars.

    And is property ownership prior to agreeing on principles of justice, or something that requires unanimous consent to itself?

  • Georgian Tutuianu

    would probably respond with the following.


    of justice should only exist and be enforceable about items we can all
    reasonably unanimously consent to therefore, anything beyond this would be an
    illegitimate act of either the state or any other body of enforcement. 


    Since the
    people in your example can’t agree on principles of justice their best bet
    would be to avoid each other. Since they interact anyway it would be in their
    best interest to establish some non-aggression principle protecting themselves
    from the other at a minimum or else as you’ve correctly pointed out violence
    and war may result. That non-aggression principle is the libertarian principle
    Narveson argues for in his book.


    question about property is interesting. I think that property ownership is independent
    of the contractarian position since in the state of nature theft can still

  • Damien S.

    I don’t see a comment box on the “Dear Left” post, so I can’t snark in the proper place about how amazingly the moderate left is to blame for corporatism, while the right is innocent, especially the Republican party that’s been pro-big business since its inception.

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