We tell our children that it’s wrong to lie. And, at least when they are young, we do not qualify the statement. We do not tell them that it’s wrong to lie unless you really, really need the thing you’re lying to get, or unless it’s just a tiny little white lie anyway. We tell them that it’s wrong to lie, period.

Of course, most of us don’t really believe this statement, at least in its absolute and unqualified form. The family that hid Anne Frank in their attic was morally permitted (perhaps even morally obligated?) to lie to the Nazis about not knowing the location of any Jews. On a more mundane level, there is nothing morally wrong about telling a colleague you run into in the hallway that you’re doing “fine,” even when you are not, in fact, doing fine at all. As children, we might have learned that it is a serious sin to lie, but by the time we are grown ups, even people who view the Ten Commandments as an important moral guide realize that the ethics of deception is considerably more ambiguous than that.

Now let’s move from lying to coercion. One of the criticisms that’s commonly leveled against BHL or classical liberalism (as opposed to strict libertarianism) is that it’s too, well, wishy-washy. Yes, we like property rights. But we don’t like to think of ourselves as property rights absolutists. Sure, we think coercive redistribution is bad. But in certain cases and in certain forms, we’re willing to tolerate it. So where’s the line? Once we admit that some coercion is morally permissible, what’s to stop us from sliding down the slippery slope into outright socialism?

But why should we think that coercion is any different from lying? Most of us think that lying is morally permissible in some circumstances, but not in others. Which circumstances are which is hard to specify precisely, but the wrongfulness of a lie probably depends on (at the very least) the severity of the harm your lie causes its victim and the nature of the good you’re trying to achieve by lying. Telling a few white lies does not commit you, logically or causally, to being a pathological liar. Why, then, should we think that sanctioning some coercive interference with property rights commits one to sanctioning all coercive interference with property rights?

It would be nice, of course, if we had a bright line by which we could distinguish permissible interference from impermissible. A rule that told us exactly when it’s OK to take someone’s money without their consent, and when it’s not. But is this a reasonable thing to hope for from a moral/political theory? There’s no bright line that separates permissible lies from impermissible ones, and yet we seem to do alright without one. By the time we’re grown ups, most of us have a well-developed faculty of practical wisdom to know when it’s OK to lie and when it’s not (even if we don’t always do what we know to be required).

If the line between permissible and impermissible lies is not bright but nebulous and fuzzy, why should we expect the line between permissible and impermissible coercion to be any brighter?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against bright lines altogether. I think that the truth about morality, whatever that means, is messy and complicated. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the morality that we preach to each other (and to ourselves) ought to try to mirror that complexity. I’m going to keep telling my oldest son (he’s three) that it’s wrong to lie, period, even though I don’t believe that to be true. The reason should be obvious to any parent. If I tell my son that there are exceptions to the rule, he’s likely to think that it’s OK to lie in a lot of situations where it really isn’t. “Never lie” is technically less accurate advice than “Never lie except in the following set of situations…” But I think my son will come closer to acting in the way morality requires him to act if he tries to follow the first rule than he would by trying to follow the second.

And maybe this is how we can make a kind of libertarian absolutism work. After all, governments are a lot like children. They tend to put their own interests ahead of the interests of others; they’re not very good at thinking about what’s good for them in the long-term; they have a tendency to behave impulsively, and so on. It would be the height of foolishness to tell someone like that that “It’s OK to use coercion whenever you think that the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs,” even if that principle really was true. It would be foolish because a principle that allows so much discretion invites abuse, especially when used by agents who are prone to abuse anyway. Better to tell your government to stick to a simple, transparent, and relatively algorhythmic rule, like “it’s never OK to take a citizen’s land without their consent for purposes of economic redevelopment,” even if that principle is, in some deep sense, false (it really would be OK to take a citizen’s land without consent in some circumstances). Governments, like children, need simple rules, even (especially!) when dealing with a complex world.

Of course, what the content of those simple rules should be, and how simple they have to be, is still up for grabs. “No taxation” is about as simple as it gets, but many classical liberals will think that the added complexity that comes from making an exception for expenditures on police, courts, and military, will be more than justified by the moral benefits such complexity allows us to reap. Is the same true for exceptions made for public goods? For a social safety net? My own inclination is to think that the answer is “yes,” but that’s an argument for another day.

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  • François Meyer

    One thing to do is to always call a lie a lie whatever the reason for it. The same with coercion and all the other inroads into personal freedom. Don’t sugar-coat.

    • http://profiles.google.com/yrrosimyarin Yrro Simyarin

      Exactly. I am fine with the idea of someone saying “don’t steal from your neighbors or we’ll shoot you” or “contribute to the common defense or I’ll shoot you” or even “help make sure no one in the country has to starve to death, or I’ll shoot you.” But admit that there’s a gun on the other end of the legislation, and take that into account when you’re deciding whether your newest project is worth using government for.

    • Damien S.

      And when you kill someone in self-defense, you murder them?

  • Sean II

    Matt,

    The tricky part comes in judging when your son is old enough to understand the argument you just made. At some point, you’ll have to admit that “never lie” was a calculated lie on your part, and the resulting fit of youthful emotion will probably cause him to ignore anything you say next (perhaps for all of eternity, which in adolescent terms could mean as much as 3.5 days).

    It seems this post also contains your solution to the trolley problem:

    a) Switching the trolley so that it hits Bob is murder.
    b) To save the other five lives, I would murder Bob.
    c) Without for a moment denying that it’s murder.
    d) Yes, you heard me right, deontology police.
    e) What of it?

  • Gordon Sollars

    “As children, we might have learned that it is a serious sin to lie, but
    by the time we are grown ups, even people who view the Ten Commandments
    as an important moral guide realize that the ethics of deception is considerably more ambiguous than that.”

    In fact, even the Ten Commandments are more nuanced. The ninth commandment only prohibits giving false testimony against a neighbor, a specific kind of lie in a specific context.

  • http://www.facebook.com/les.nearhood Les Kyle Nearhood

    Let us leave Libertarianism out of the debate. Do you believe in ANY ideology, belief system, or platform in which everything is absolutely black and white and there can never be any compromise whatsoever? I can think of none for any normal sane person. And in fact I would probably be opposed to any fanatical person who does.

    • SimpleMachine88

      Always! wash your hands after using the loo.

      • TracyW

        The bathroom just caught on fire, but it’s spreading fast. :)

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    Matt,
    I question the analogy between coercion and lying. As you know, the reason that libertarians object to coercion is that it involves the sacrifice of one person’s interests for the “greater good.” It almost always violates, I think, the “separateness of persons” (a subject on which you are an expert). But I don’t think (justifiable) lying does this. Usually, we justify lying because the person lied to is up to no good (the Nazis at the door). They obviously should be deceived, since they want to do something horrific. Lying, when morally permissable, does not typically involve the sacrifice of the interests of innocent parties, while coercion does. Of course, if you are a consequentialist/utilitarian you might think that lying is permissible whenever it would bring about the best consequences, but I don’t think that this is the moral framework you are working from.

    • http://independent.academia.edu/DannyFrederick Danny Frederick

      I don’t think ‘interests’ is the notion you want here. A paternalist will coerce a person for the sake of that person’s own interests. But it is still coercion if the person does not consent. Coercion violates a person’s rights, not necessarily his interests.

      Lying to someone need not violate his rights. It will do, if you lie to him about what you are selling him. But outside of contracts and special circumstances, lying violates no right, but may still be wrong.

      Even when morally permissible, it seems to me that lying does sacrifice some interest of the person lied to. Surely, we all have an interest in not being lied to, because it is a substandard form of behaviour visited upon us; it is a way of insulting us, unless there are specific reasons why, in the circumstances, it is not. Even when we are lied to because it is in our overall interest (e.g., to spare us pain), it is still against our interest in knowing the truth and against our interest in being treated as an equal.

      So I would express your point by saying that, whereas coercion always violates a person’s rights, lying often does not. (Of course, I define coercion in terms of right-violation.)

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Thanks Danny. I’m not sure that I agree with all of this, but also not sure that it matters so much relative to the point I was making to Matt, i.e. the potential moral distinction between the wrongs of lying and coercion. First, my use of “interests” was general, and certainly was meant to include a rights-violation. Second, I’m not sure that (as you say) “coercion violates a person’s rights, not necessarily his interests,” because the free exercise of our autonomy (for competent adults) is always (I would argue) in our interests, and I don’t accept paternalism as a justification for coercion “for the sake of that person’s own interests.” Finally, when you lie to the Nazis at the door, I do not think that you have harmed them in any way we should care about, i.e. you have not violated any morally legitimate interest they may have. Just as when I injure someone in legitimate self-defense.

        But, I do agree with the first part of your conclusion, that (at least arguably) coercion always violates a person’s rights, even if that right can justifiably be overridden in some cases. And, I also agree that justified lying does not typically involve a violation of the victim’s rights; its just that I am struggling to come up with a case where justified lying does violate the subject’s rights. Maybe it all depends on exactly what we count as a “lie.”

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Danny,
        Thanks for the friendly amendment. Not sure I agree with it all, but some of the disagreement may be mere semantics. First, my use of “interests” was intended to include not having one’s rights violated. Second, not sure I agree that (as you say) “Coercion violates a person’s rights, not necessarily his interests,” because I think all competent adults have a right (and interest) to have their moral sutonomy respected, and I don’t accept paternalistic reasons as adequate justification..

        So, I think we basically agree, although we express the point somewhat differently.

    • http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski Matt Zwolinski

      Lying, when morally permissable, does not typically involve the sacrifice of the interests of innocent parties, while coercion does.

      Interesting point, Mark. There might be something to this. So what would you say about something like bluffing in a negotiation? Suppose I tell a car dealer that I am unwilling to pay X for his car, in order to get him to lower the price to <X. In fact, though, I am willing to pay X if I have to. This looks like a lie; it looks like a lie that "sacrifices the interest of an innocent party" in the sense that it sets back the interests of the car dealer if it is effective; and it also looks morally permissible. What say you?

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Matt,
        Just when I got to the good part, the text is garbled.

        • http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski Matt Zwolinski

          Better now?

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Yes, thanks.

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        I think context matters a lot in determining when something is a lie. If I’m in a strange city and I ask a passerby for directions to the courthouse, I have a reasonable expectation that he will (i) ignore me (if he’s too busy), (ii) tell me he doesn’t know or (iii) attempt to give me accurate directions. If instead he does (iv), deliberately give me directions to go the wrong way, I believe it counts as a lie. On the other hand, if I am playing poker, I can hardly complain about being bluffed, because this is an (honored) part of the game.

        You case looks more like poker. The car dealer should know that you may bluff, exaggerate, fib a little, etc., and you should expect it of him. So depending on the exact context, I don’t think you would be lying in your case. However, if you have rolled back the odometer of your trade-in, well that is a lie.

        • http://independent.academia.edu/DannyFrederick Danny Frederick

          Mark, I liked your response to my comment, but I don’t like this one. It seems ad hoc: you are changing the definition of ‘lying’ to save your contention.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Well, feel free to jump into the conversation. I think I am using lying consistently, i.e. a deliberate attempt to deceive, but it maybe Matt is right about the permissibility of lying. But, I am not comvinced that the dealership situation is not very much like poker, i.e. a “lie” within a game context..

          • http://independent.academia.edu/DannyFrederick Danny Frederick

            But in the dealership situation you make a deliberate attempt to deceive the other party about what you are willing to pay. So that counts as lying in your terms. The fact that each party knows that the other has an incentive to deceive, and may suspect that the other is currently making a deceptive statement, does not change the fact one is indeed deliberately trying to deceive the other.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            But there are games, like poker, where “lying” is so part of the game that it isn’t a lie. At some point there is no “deception” in the relevent sense, and certainly no harm to the victim. I think one element of a lie is that the victim has some reasonable expectation that the speaker will tell the truth. If I told you, “Danny, I am in a funny mood. in the next five minutes everything I tell you will be a lie.” Then, I think it is obvious that anything said in that period would not count as a lie. But, in any case, see my response to Matt, which is probably more on the main line of discussion.

          • https://www.facebook.com/groups/collective.individuation/ Erik

            This was a fascinating discussion, and since it was a year ago I’m sure those involved may have further developed their ideas. In any case, I hope you don’t mind if I jump in belatedly to point out that lying and coercing (let alone their justifiable and unjustifiable counterparts) are not analogous so much as intimately tied together. Indeed, they are inseparable. I don’t think one can even make a coherent, normative differentiation between justifiable and unjustifiable coercion without reference to consent, and by way of that to agency and purpose–and when you reach that insight it may become clear that coercion cannot be defined independent of consent, and that any actual consent depends on a degree of sincerity over and against deception (especially unacknowledged or unrecognized deception).

            On the other hand, there is a difference between playing poker and bargaining because the former is about deceiving within a zero-sum game, while bargaining is about conjecturing and discovering the mutual conditions for consent–indeed, arriving something closer to the truth–rather than about deception per se.

        • http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski Matt Zwolinski

          It seems like it would be more accurate to say that context matters in determining whether a lie is permisible. In the car dealer case, I am knowingly stating a falsehood with the intention to deceive. That sure looks like a lie. Bluffing might be a little different because it typically doesn’t involve stating a falsehood, but it certainly involves intentional deception. But, you’re right, in the context of the game it is perfectly permissible.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Well, the main point is, whatever we want to call what you did with the car dealer, I don’t think that it “sacrifices the interest of an innocent party” in the same way that coercion does. The dealer has options that we don’t have against the state, i.e. he can call your bluff, bluff back, etc.

          • http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski Matt Zwolinski

            Yeah, I guess I still haven’t seen precisely what the problem is with the analogy. As Danny and others have pointed out, justifiable coercion doesn’t always sacrifice the interest of innocent parties. And as I have been trying to point out, justifiable lying sometimes does. Perhaps there’s some other disanalogy having to do with the way in which lying and coercion set back the interests of innocent others. That seems to be what you’re suggesting in this last comment. But you haven’t said enough to convince me just yet.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Let’s use Danny’s formulation of my objection. Do you claim that what you did to the car dealer constitutes a violation of his rights? I don’t believe that it does under the totality of the circumstances. If not, can you give me an example where permissible lying does violate the rights of the “victim.” Perhaps you can, but I think this will be an extreme and unusual case. On the other hand, situations where you justifiably coerce a person, always (I think) violate the rights of the person coerced, at least under the particular conception of rights that libertarians/classical liberals use, although his rights may be overridden or outweighed by other moral considerations.

          • http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski Matt Zwolinski

            I don’t think that rights-violations are involved in either typical cases of justified lying or justified coercion. The coercion involved in the maintenance of a system of property rights is justifiable, but not rights-violating. So too with your lying to the car dealer. And in both cases, the line between justifiable and non-justifiable seems to me to be fuzzy, rather than bright.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            So, when the state takes land by eminent domain from an unwilling owner or forces you to pay taxes to fund foreign wars, it is not violating your rights, because this is part of a larger justified system of property rights?

          • http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski Matt Zwolinski

            No. I thought you were looking for examples of justified coercion that also involve rights-violation. I do not deny that the examples you give here are rights-violating. I deny that they are justified. At least, most cases of eminent domain and foreign wars are. If you were to further specify the example in a way that led me to conclude that the actions were indeed justified, then yes, I would say that they were not rights-violating.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            OK, but many philosophers who think about rights conceive of this situation differently, i.e. a right is overridden by a more powerful moral consideration. Or, a right is infringed but not violated. You seem to be ruling out these conceptions of what happens when rights conflict with other rights or consequentialist considerations. No? And, I wouldn’t talk in terms of overridding or infringement with respect to justified lying, but I would for justified coercion.

          • http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski Matt Zwolinski

            Yes, there are different ways that philosophers talk about what’s going on in situations like this. You talk about them in your book, if I recall correctly? Including the approach I’m taking here. I’m not ruling out the different ways. They’re just not the way I think it’s most fruitful to talk about these matters.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            So are we agreed, then, that at least under certain conceptions of rights there is a disanalogy between justifiable coercion and justifiable lying?

          • http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski Matt Zwolinski

            I’m afraid I don’t see what that disanalogy is supposed to be, or how it undermines the point I made in the OP.

          • https://www.facebook.com/groups/collective.individuation/ Erik

            This was a fascinating discussion, and since it was a year ago I’m sure those involved may have further developed their ideas. In any case, I hope you don’t mind if I jump in belatedly to point out that lying and coercing (let alone their justifiable and unjustifiable counterparts) are not analogous so much as intimately tied together. Indeed, they are inseparable. I don’t think one can even make a coherent, normative differentiation between justifiable and unjustifiable coercion without reference to consent, and by way of that to agency and purpose–and when you reach that insight it may become clear that coercion cannot be defined independent of consent, and that any actual consent depends on a degree of sincerity over and against deception (especially unacknowledged or unrecognized deception). In short, it’s simply not consensual if one person deceives another in any way relevant to the reasons for consent.

            On the other hand, there is a difference between playing poker and bargaining because poker is about deceiving within a zero-sum game, while bargaining is about conjecturing and discovering the mutual conditions for consent in a win-win game–indeed, arriving at something closer to the truth–rather than about deception per se.

    • Gordon

      You seem to be using a “moralized” notion of
      coercion, in which it is, by definition, a wrong of some kind. But
      suppose I “coerce” you into returning my wallet, which you have
      stolen? If you wish to keep the moral content in “coerce”, then
      let me simply say that I “use force” to recover my wallet. The
      analogy between using force and lying is that either might be permissible
      depending on the background circumstances.

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        You are correct that I am using coercion to mean essentially a rights violation, but substituting “force” does not affect my point. When the state uses its power of eminent domain to take land from unwilling private holders for private development it is categorically doing harm to the owners (I say violating their rights), although you can argue that this might be justified in certain cases. Lying often does no moral harm to (does not violate the rights of) the victim, i.e. the Nazis at the door.

        • Gordon

          I thought your point was to attack Matt’s analogy. My reply shows how “using force” (which some, perhaps including Matt, equate to “coercion”) is analogous to lying. When I use force to recover my wallet, your rights are not violated, just as no wrong is done when the Nazis are lied to.

          In your eminent domain example, you are assuming that rights are being violated. Are you also saying that when I recover my wallet from you, your rights have been violated even though I have a justification?

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Let me try to be more clear. I am challenging Matt’s analogy, but not because I think lying is more or less categorically wrong then coercion (force). It is because the effect and moral analysis is different in the case of justifiable lying and justifiable coercion. Usually, when you justifiably lie you do not violate the rights of the subject. Nazis have no rights in that context. But, when you justifiably use coercion (or force, if you prefer) you often do violate the rights of the victim, even though this might be permissible on an all things considered basis.

  • Fallon

    Thanks Prof. Zwolinski.
    My reaction.
    The classic liberal disparaging charge of absolutism or strictness against libertarian/anarchists is better reserved for the classic liberals themselves. The concept of state; so linear, static, class based, and requiring a childish submission only rivaled by outright religious irrationality for its survival…. The classic liberal state can only be defended by resort to absolutes. It follows that the governmental expression of state is not pragmatic enough to solve moral dilemmas (Bastiat).
    How about an unnuanced musical analogy?
    Classic liberals are like the musicologist that declares: “Great music requires written composition, to be played as properly interpreted and directed by the conductor. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart…who dare argue with these greats’ achievements?”
    The Libertarian/anarchist musicologist replies: “Jazz.”

    • http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski Matt Zwolinski

      Interesting! It’s no doubt true that many classical liberals have been blind to the possibility of order without the state, simply assuming that the state *must*, of course, take on certain functions. So I suppose that’s a kind of absolutism, though a somewhat different sort than the kind I had in mind. Whether classical liberalism *as such* is necessarily absolutist, or absolutist in an objectionable way, is something I’m not so sure about.

  • Michael Zigismund

    “Telling a few white lies does not commit you,
    logically or causally, to being a pathological liar. Why, then, should we think
    that sanctioning some coercive interference with property rights commits one to
    sanctioning all coercive interference with property rights?”

    Replace “commit” with “permit.” Just as
    some lying “permits” further lying, some coercion “permits”
    further coercion.

    Philosophically, an occasional liar has no defense against a
    pathological liar. Likewise, the minarchist must find a philosophical stopgap
    to further political encroachment.

    • martinbrock

      The occasional liar’s defense against a pathological liar is that he lies occasionally and not pathologically.

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    Yes and no. From the moral perspective I am using (which I think Matt largely shares), using coercion (or force) against what we regard as an “innocent” person, i.e. (roughly) someone who is just minding his/her own business, is always (not often) wrong (i.e. a rights violation). Sometimes rights can be overridden, but in such cases you are still inflicting a moral harm on an innocent person. But permissible lying is not this way. You can lie to evil people and not harm them

    • Gordon

      “moral harm” seems to be in need of clarification. You can lie to an evil person without violating his rights, but arguably you do “harm” him. Do you intend “moral harm” as some sort of nonconsequentialist category – a “wrong” (as opposed to a “bad”) – that is not identical to a rights violation?

      If so, then you seem to be claiming that one can lie to an innocent or evil person without morally harming them, but although you can use force against an evil person without morally harming him, use of force against the innocent will always entail some moral harm. (Or, perhaps this is too strong, and you think that lying to an innocent person also involves moral harm even when justified?) So, use of force and lying are not analogous *in that regard*.

      However, I don’t see how the innocent/evil distinction upsets Matt’s analogy. He is asking why we should expect the line demarcating permissible and impermissible use of force to be any brighter than the line between permissible and impermissible lying. How does your claim make the line any brighter?

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        I’ve tried as hard as I can to explain the distinction I am trying to draw. Perhaps I am dead wrong about it, but at this point I will leave well enough alone.

        • Gordon

          You may well be right about there being a difference of the sort you mention between lying and coercion – assuming I understand your claim, as I was trying to do above. But the real point of Matt’s argument, it seems to me, is not so much that permissible lying and permissible coercion are closely analogous – except beyond the sense that they are both governed by complex rules – but rather that governments are analogous to children. Both are better off being given simple rules to follow, even when we recognize that the simple rules are not quite correct.

  • martinbrock

    The Ten Commandments forbid “bearing false witness against one’s neighbor” rather than lying per se.

    As a Utilitarian cum Libertarian, my opposition to socialism involves the counterproductive and self-serving governance of vast resources by central authorities rather than any absolute fealty to particular standards of propriety governing which individuals properly govern which resources.

    My utilitarianism requires a theory of human nature distinguishing happy human states from unhappy states, and this theory includes a strong, intrinsic human desire for self-determination. A man must govern himself and fruits of his labor to be happy, but propriety over the land and other valuable resources involves complex questions, and I do not accept simple answers to these questions.

    I am generally suspicious of standards entitling a proprietor to govern vast or remote resources, so I oppose most intellectual property for example, but I also oppose standards that other libertarians take more for granted, like hereditary title in perpetuity, and I favor practical reforms, short of anarchic utopias, that other libertarians disfavor, like a progressive consumption tax.

    To be clear, this “tax” is not a revenue raising measure for the state. It is a rule prohibiting a very wealthy proprietor from personally consuming too much of the yield of his property, as opposed to reinvesting the yield or distributing it charitably. I want decentralized authorities governing valuable resources subject to market forces, but I don’t want this authority entirely unchecked (or checked only by conventional market forces).

    Specifically, I want to limit a proprietor’s authority to consume only or mostly the marginal value of resources other than his own labor; however, I do not want to limit this authority by transferring it to more central authorities in the state.

    A very wealthy proprietor, governing vast resources other than his own labor, is himself a central authority within the state. The whole point of a progressive consumption tax is to limit centralized, statutory authority, not to further enrich more central authorities with duties imposed on less central authorities.

    My approach to limiting forcible authority can be juxtaposed with an “inalienable rights” approach that posits particular, individual rights and then asserts the “justice” of enforcing these rights, along with contracts, and only these rights. If one man ends up owning all of the British Isles by application of these rules, then his effective monarchy actually constitutes no state at all, and no one may properly dispute his titles.

    I reject this “natural rights” way of thinking and consider it fundamentally antithetical to the classically liberal tradition.

  • Gabriel Farkas

    “Lie except in the following set of situations…”
    I think you’re operating from the wrong baseline premise. This should be “don’t lie except in…”

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