The folks over at Libertarianism.org were kind enough to ask me to do a bit of blogging for them. As a big fan of the site – George Smith’s Excursions series is excellent, and their collection of libertarian video is amazing -I readily accepted. My first two posts are now up.
The first is mostly introductory, but makes a case for asking hard questions about common libertarian beliefs, and for thinking more deeply about their moral justification. A lot of people like free markets and private property because they “work,” but
we cannot know what works unless we know what it means to “work.” A policy “works,” presumably, if it gets us the right results. But what results are right? Economic growth? Increased happiness? More freedom? … To know what works requires, at the very least, that we decide which outcomes are worth pursuing and what means are legitimate for pursuing them. It requires, in other words, that we think philosophically about morality and politics.
The second post begins a series on libertarianism and freedom, noting that the relationship is more complicated than is often assumed by both libertarians and their critics. Libertarians like freedom, and libertarians like justice. And they are both values that are well worth liking.
But we should resist the temptation to suppose that they are the same value. That they are not the same entails that it is possible, in principle at least, that they may in certain circumstances come into conflict.
One such conflict arises in the relationship between libertarianism and property – a conflict that I will examine in detail in a future post. The next post scheduled to go up looks more closely at the idea that libertarianism is committed to maximizing freedom, and rejects it as flawed. After that, I plan to devote a post or two to Herbert Spencer‘s “Law of Equal Freedom.”
Libertarianism.org isn’t set up to handle comments, so if you’ve any thoughts on the first two posts, feel free to express them in the comments thread here. I’ll post links to my essays as they are published.