Announcements – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com Free Markets and Social Justice Wed, 21 Feb 2018 18:00:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.3 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cropped-site-icon-BHL-32x32.png Announcements – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com 32 32 22756168 Class Act http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/class-act/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/class-act/#comments Thu, 11 Jan 2018 02:26:50 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12124 Karl Marx once wrote: I do not claim to have discovered either the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me, bourgeois historians had...

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Karl Marx once wrote:

I do not claim to have discovered either the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me, bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this struggle between the classes, as had bourgeois economists their economic anatomy. My own contribution was

1. to show that the existence of classes is merely bound up with certain historical phases in the development of production;

2. that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat;

3. that this dictatorship itself constitutes no more than a transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.

Marx is certainly right that class analysis was a central feature of classical liberalism long before he picked it up. He’s fibbing a bit, though, about (1) and (3); many of his bourgeois predecessors (for example, the Censeur triumvirate of Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, and Augustin Thierry) most emphatically thought that class society as they understood it was a temporary phenomenon destined to be displaced. Thierry, for example, announces:

Federations will replace states; the loose but indissoluble chains of interest will replace the despotism of men and of laws; the tendency towards government, the first passion of the human race, will cede to the free community. The era of empire is over, the era of association begins.

The main difference between Marx and the liberals was that Marx took the differentiation between ruling and ruled classes to be grounded in differential access to the means of production, whereas the liberals took the differentiation between ruling and ruled classes to be grounded in differential access to predatory power, and in particular to the power of the state. (To be sure, Marx acknowledged and indeed insisted on the important role of the state in maintaining class division when examining the details of history or current events; but the state quickly receded in importance when he turned to abstract theory.)

All this is by way of noting that I just received in the mail my author’s copy of Social Class and State Power: Exploring an Alternative Radical Tradition, an anthology of libertarian and classical liberal writings on class analysis that I co-edited with David Hart, Gary Chartier, and Ross Kenyon.

The volume includes material by a rather heterogeneous collection of authors:

  • from the 17th century, Richard Overton;
  • from the 18th century, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Vicesimus Knox, and William Godwin;
  • from the 19th century, Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, Thomas Hodgskin, John Wade, William Leggett, Richard Cobden, John C. Calhoun, Adolphe Blanqui, Frédéric Bastiat, Charles Renouard, Augustin Thierry, Gustave de Molinari, Herbert Spencer, William Graham Sumner, Lysander Spooner, and Benjamin Tucker;
  • and from the 20th century, Franz Oppenheimer, Albert J. Nock, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Roy Childs, Walter Grinder, John Hagel, Hans Hoppe, and your humble correspondent.

I would urge you to go out and buy a copy; but in light of the book’s $100 pricetag, I’ll just urge you to go out and suggest to your local research library that they buy a copy.

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Two New Publications http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/two-new-publications/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/two-new-publications/#comments Thu, 04 Jan 2018 06:24:51 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12115 My chapter on “Anarchism and Libertarianism” is forthcoming in Nathan Jun, ed., Brill’s Companion to Anarchism and Philosophy (Leiden: Brill, 2017), at the usual insane Brill price. In the chapter...

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My chapter on “Anarchism and Libertarianism” is forthcoming in Nathan Jun, ed., Brill’s Companion to Anarchism and Philosophy (Leiden: Brill, 2017), at the usual insane Brill price. In the chapter I explore the relationship between libertarianism (in the free-market sense) and the anarchist movement, including the question whether anarcho-capitalism counts as a genuine form of anarchism. (My C4SS colleague Kevin Carson has a chapter in the book as well.)

According to the publisher, I’m only allowed to make 25 hard copies of the chapter – but I’m also allowed to post a copy online, so long as it’s on my personal website. That seems to me a bit like saying “No smoking allowed in this room, but it’s okay to set the bed on fire.” But okay, here’s a link to the chapter.

(My reference to capitalist labour markets as “oligopolistic” was supposed to be “oligopsonistic.” The editors changed it to “oligopolistic,” which of course has the opposite meaning; I changed it back in galleys, but it ended up “oligopolistic” in the final published text nonetheless. Sigh.)

I also have a chapter on “Minarchism on Seasteads” in Victor Tiberius, ed., Seasteads: Opportunities and Challenges for Small New Societies (Zurich: VDF, 2017). I explore options for constraining a seastead minarchy (essentially by incorporating as many anarchist features as possible; those who remember my articles from the FNF/LNF days will find my proposals familiar). Here’s the link.

(The version I’ve posted is the galley proofs with my corrections. No, of course the corrections did not make it into the final published text. Sigh again.)

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Discussion of Bruce Gilley’s “The case for colonialism” over at Cato Unbound. http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/discussion-bruce-gilleys-case-colonialism-cato-unbound/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/discussion-bruce-gilleys-case-colonialism-cato-unbound/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 16:20:43 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12056 My essay “Foreign Rule and Colonial Fictions” is now up at Cato Unbound‘s new issue “Perspectives on Colonialism”. This was written as a response to the absolutely excellent lead paper by...

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My essay “Foreign Rule and Colonial Fictions” is now up at Cato Unbound‘s new issue “Perspectives on Colonialism”. This was written as a response to the absolutely excellent lead paper by Sahar Khan, “Why Libertarians Shouldn’t Accept the Case for Colonialism”. I also highly recommend Berny Sebe’s response essay, “The Case Against Historical Anachronism”.

Enjoy the discussion!

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CFP: Social Trust http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/cfp-social-trust/ Mon, 09 Oct 2017 21:16:40 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12051 Call for Abstracts The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy Social Trust April 20th-21st, 2018 Keynote Speakers: Cristina Bicchieri (University of Pennsylvania) and Ted Hinchman (University of...

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Call for Abstracts

The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy

Social Trust

April 20th-21st, 2018

Keynote Speakers: Cristina Bicchieri (University of Pennsylvania) and Ted Hinchman (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)

Political scientists and economists have studied social trust for decades, but social trust is seriously underexplored in philosophical contexts, despite a sizeable literature on personal trust in ethics, psychology, and epistemology. Yet given the centrality of social trust for social order, it seems natural to think that analyses of social trust and its value could help answer some of the central questions in social and political philosophy. The purpose of this workshop is to generate a cross-disciplinary discussion on the nature and value of social trust among philosophers, political scientists, and economists working in the area or interested in doing so. We invite a range of submissions from any theorists, social or normative, working on topics concerned with social trust.

Those interested in presenting a paper are invited to submit a 2-3 page abstract (double-spaced) by Dec. 15th, 2017.

Only one submission per person is permitted. Abstracts will be evaluated by a program committee and decisions will be made by the end of January 2018.

Please submit abstracts to Sally Pietrasz (pietras@bgsu.edu).

Information about previous workshops is available at the workshop website: https://www.bgsu.edu/arts-and-sciences/philosophy/workshops-and-conferences.html. Information about the 2018 workshop will be posted soon.

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Student Seminar on “Markets and Morality” http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/student-seminar-markets-morality/ Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:47:41 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12033 I’ll be hosting a student conference on “Markets and Morality” at The College of New Jersey in conjunction with the wonderful Institute for Humane Studies on Sept. 29th and 30th....

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I’ll be hosting a student conference on “Markets and Morality” at The College of New Jersey in conjunction with the wonderful Institute for Humane Studies on Sept. 29th and 30th. More information here! Please do consider attending if you’re in the Ewing/Princeton area!
 

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Chris Freiman’s Unequivocal Justice http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/08/chris-freimans-unequivocal-justice/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/08/chris-freimans-unequivocal-justice/#comments Wed, 02 Aug 2017 15:19:00 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11965 Christopher Freiman  has just published a fabulous book, Unequivocal Justice, the first book in Routledge Press’s new “Political Philosophy for the Real World” series. It is a tour de force of philosophical...

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Christopher Freiman  has just published a fabulous book, Unequivocal Justice, the first book in Routledge Press’s new “Political Philosophy for the Real World” series.

It is a tour de force of philosophical excellence. It may well be the best book of political philosophy published in 2017. I certainly haven’t read anything this year that comes close to competing with it.

Imagine a person said, “I have a solution to the problem of drunk driving. However, my solution works only in a world where alcohol hadn’t been invented.” There’s something deeply silly and incoherent about that.

Well, it turns out that the mainstream of political philosophy over the past 50 years has precisely this problem. The mainline of political philosophy, when it tries to defend or critique various institutions, has largely been a joke, Freiman shows us, though he’s too polite to put it that bluntly.

What Freiman shows is that Rawls, Freeman, Ackerman, Dworkin, and a number of other left-liberal philosophers are making this kind of mistake over and over. His critique is so devastating that you might as well take Rawls’s writings about institutions and throw them in the trash; they are now, thanks to Chris, nothing more than artifacts of historical interest.

Chris starts by saying,

A perfect state is a pointless state.

The point of a state is to mitigate injustice. If Rich would donate his 40% to the poor, the state wouldn’t need to tax his income. If Mimi would buy a hybrid instead of a Hummer, the state wouldn’t need to cap her emissions. But since virtue alone won’t do the job, the state needs to redistribute equitably and regulate efficiently.

…But here’s the problem: the very reasons why the state is needed are reasons why the state won’t work.

 

Rawls writes mostly at the level of ideal theory. But, Freiman shows, an ideal theory of the state is incoherent. (Yes, he responds to Kavka’s argument otherwise.) Under ideal conditions–in which people are stipulated to comply fully with the requirements of morality and justice–there simply is no need for a state, period. There is no need to create an institution which claims a monopoly on violence and which enforces rules through threats of violence. Ideal theory must be anarchist.

Coercion is needed to defend justice only when society is less than fully just. But when society is less than fully just, we cannot stipulate the ideal justness of the state itself. So we arrive at the dilemma for ideal theories of the state: either (i) society is fully just, in which case there is no need for a state, or (ii) society is not fully just, in which we case we may not stipulate the state itself is just.

In order to create a need for a state, Rawls (and his followers) equivocate. They posit bad behavior in the private sector. But then, in order to defend their favored regime and in order to avoid the criticism that the regime itself might be corrupt and make things worse, they imagine away all bad behavior in the public sphere.

For example, Rawls claims that we need to equalize incomes in order to prevent the rich from buying power for themselves. (Freiman thinks that’s a weird argument to begin with; in order to stop people from polluting, we don’t equalize income; rather we regulate pollution.) But here’s the dilemma.

…The only way to ground both (i) the need for regulation and (ii) the stipulation of the regulation’s success is to equivocate in precisely the way Rawls does.

So, to restore consistency, Rawls needs to resolve a dilemma: Either (i) the rich aren’t buying up state power, in which case equalization isn’t necessary, or (ii) the rich are buying up state power, in which case they can subvert equalization by buying up the state power unleashed to do the equalizing. Neither option justifies an a priori demand for equalization.

A few other philosophers, including G. A. Cohen and me, have pointed out that Rawls makes cartoonishly bad arguments like this here and there. But Freiman methodically goes through Rawls and a few others, and finds they make such arguments constantly. Rawls’s version of the public goods argument, his argument for redistribution taxation, his argument for the existence of the state, and so on, all have the same form: He’s giving us a theory about how to solve drunk driving, but his solution can only be stipulated to work in a world where alcohol had never been invented.

In the end, the mistake is that Rawls is trying to make a priori arguments for institutions, regime-types, and rules. These arguments all fail. They are no substitute for doing careful PPE-style empirical institutional analysis. Freiman closes by warning left-liberals not just to presume that empirical analysis will vindicate the exact institutions they were defending on entirely a priori grounds.

Again, the book is a tour-de-force. You should read it. It will make you a better thinker.

Here’s my blurb for the book:

Unequivocal Justice, with its delightful and engaging prose, is a devastating critique of the dominant arguments and methods in political philosophy. It shows that almost everything Rawls and other left-liberals have said about institutions over the past 50 years is not merely wrong, but incoherent. It should–if philosophers have an intellectual integrity–change the field forever.

Strong words, but entirely deserved.

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Psychological Harm and Free Speech on Campus http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/07/psychological-harm-free-speech-campus/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/07/psychological-harm-free-speech-campus/#comments Thu, 06 Jul 2017 05:09:47 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11915 Psychological Harm and Free Speech on Campus The short piece I wrote about free speech on college campuses is now available to read online (but not downloadable) here.   I...

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Psychological Harm and Free Speech on Campus
The short piece I wrote about free speech on college campuses is now available to read online (but not downloadable) here.   I like this piece alot, but I know many will disagree with various parts.  Even blogmates will find things to disagree with. I know Daniel Shapiro disagrees with what I say about the Skokie case and I predict Jacob Levy will disapprove of a big part of what I say about college campuses.
The basic idea: we should recognize that psychological harm is real and that like physical harm, it may make interference permissible, even with speech, but that this is highly unlikely to occur on college campuses because college essentially requires extensive speech and thus are places where all present should expect to hear views they disagree with and even disapprove of.

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CFP: Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/06/cfp-palgrave-studies-classical-liberalism/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/06/cfp-palgrave-studies-classical-liberalism/#comments Tue, 13 Jun 2017 23:06:13 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11861 Readers of this blog might be interested in a new series, published by Palgrave and edited by David Hardwick and Leslie Marsh: Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism. Here’s a description from...

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Readers of this blog might be interested in a new series, published by Palgrave and edited by David Hardwick and Leslie Marsh: Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism.

Here’s a description from the publisher’s website:

This series offers a forum to writers concerned that the central presuppositions of the liberal tradition have been severely corroded, neglected, or misappropriated by overly rationalistic and constructivist approaches.

The hardest-won achievement of the liberal tradition has been the wrestling of epistemic independence from overwhelming concentrations of power, monopolies and capricious zealotries. The very precondition of knowledge is the exploitation of the epistemic virtues accorded by society’s situated and distributed manifold of spontaneous orders, the DNA of the modern civil condition.

With the confluence of interest in situated and distributed liberalism emanating from the Scottish tradition, Austrian and behavioral economics, non-Cartesian philosophy and moral psychology, the editors are soliciting proposals that speak to this multidisciplinary constituency. Sole or joint authorship submissions are welcome as are edited collections (conference proceedings excluded), broadly theoretical or topical in nature.

If you’re interested in submitting a proposal to the series, please email Leslie Marsh.

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Overcriminalization and Indigent Legal Care Conference http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/04/overcriminalization-indigent-legal-care-conference/ Sun, 02 Apr 2017 16:09:50 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11693 Reminder for folks in the Atlanta area. This coming Thursday and Friday (April 6 & 7), we will be having a conference on Overcriminalization and Indigent Legal Care. This includes...

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Reminder for folks in the Atlanta area. This coming Thursday and Friday (April 6 & 7), we will be having a conference on Overcriminalization and Indigent Legal Care. This includes a Public Symposium on the topic Thursday at 5 pm. Details regarding the Public Symposium, are available here.  We have three Plenary speakers: Doug Husak (Rutgers Philosophy), Jelani Jefferson Exum (University of Toledo School of Law), and David Boonin (Colorado Philosophy) as well as a dozen speakers in concurrent sessions.  More info here or contact me.

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Immigration Debate and New Center at University of San Diego http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/03/immigration-debate-and-new-center-at-university-of-san-diego/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/03/immigration-debate-and-new-center-at-university-of-san-diego/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:11:22 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11681 Last Thursday, the University of San Diego hosted a debate on immigration and human rights, featuring economist and Econlog blogger Bryan Caplan and philosopher Christopher Wellman of Washington University in...

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Last Thursday, the University of San Diego hosted a debate on immigration and human rights, featuring economist and Econlog blogger Bryan Caplan and philosopher Christopher Wellman of Washington University in St. Louis. You can watch a full video of the debate below.

The debate was sponsored by USD’s Center for Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy, a new center (of which I am the founder and director) devoted to promoting research and education about the institutional and moral framework of a free society.

Prior to the event, I spoke about the center’s mission, and the debate, on KPBS’s Midday Edition. You can listen to that interview here.

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