A lot of people think that libertarianism is defined by something like the “Non-Aggression Principle.” To be a libertarian, they think, is to believe that it’s always wrong to initiate physical force. And that’s all there is to it.
I think there are a number of serious problems with this way of characterizing the fundamental libertarian moral commitment. At the very least, a commitment to non-aggression by itself isn’t enough to solve very many of the political problems about which there is real philosophical dispute. And that is because the non-aggression principle is largely indeterminate. There simply isn’t enough to it to help us decide between competing resolutions to disputed problems.
At least, that’s what I will argue in a talk I’m going to be giving for Students for Liberty this Friday. The title of the talk is “Beyond Non-Aggression: On the Need for a ‘Thick’ Libertarianism.” And I’ll be delivering it over the web on October 26th at 10:15 AM PST. Here’s the Facebook page for the event, or you can just cut straight to the chase and register here. It’s free! It’s open to all! It’s free!
I’ll argue that the non-aggression principle is indeterminate. I’ll argue that a kind of “thick libertarianism” can help us to resolve this indeterminacy. I’ll argue that John Stuart Mill was right. And I’ll argue for open borders! All in about 20 minutes. Come for the spectacle, if nothing else.