possessive_liber

possessive_liber - Possessive Libertarianism1 1. What is...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Possessive Libertarianism 1 1. What is the core libertarian idea? Where utilitarianism makes the aggregate human welfare the basis of political morality, libertarian political philosophy—which bears some affinity to the classical liberalism of John Locke and Adam Smith—is founded on the idea that individual liberty is the fundamental political value. The main idea, as Friedman states it, is that "freedom of the individual, or perhaps the family, [is] the ultimate goal in judging social arrangements" (F12). More precisely, libertarians hold that individuals have an equal basic right to liberty (F195). Libertarians do not say that we should promote the sum of liberty (whatever that means) instead of the sum of happiness. Their view is more individual-centered: they reject sacrifices of the liberty of some people even to increase the aggregate liberty, much less the aggregate happiness. Slavery and other rights violations are wrong, even if they increase the overall level of liberty. Thus Nozick says that rights are "side-constraints" on the pursuit of social goals, including the utilitarian goal of promoting the general welfare. To be sure, people claim all sorts of rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; to food, clothing, and shelter; to equal opportunity, education, health, safe streets; to the preservation of their ethnicity and language. At least since Bentham—who said that natural rights are nonsense—critics of rights have said that rights-claims tend to grow like kudzu. Unless they are constrained by attention to the common good or general welfare, they will produce social anarchy. But libertarians hold, more specifically, that individuals have a right to
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Justice , Spring 2006—2 liberty —sometimes described as a “negative right”—which protects against aggression of various kinds, rather than a “positive right,” which enables a person to do and have certain things. We will explore the content of this right in some detail later. The animating idea behind this right to liberty is suggested In a passage in Capitalism and Freedom : “the paternalistic ground for governmental activity,” Friedman says, “is in many ways the most troublesome to a liberal; for it involves the acceptance of a principle—that some shall decide for others—which he finds objectionable in most applications and which he rightly regards as the hallmark of his chief intellectual opponents , the proponents of collectivism in one or another of its guises, whether it be communism, socialism, or a welfare state.” 2 Friedman here echoes Hayek, who says in his Constitution of Liberty that each person is entitled to “follow his own plans and intentions,” to make the “pattern of his conduct of his own design, directed toward ends for which he has been persistently striving rather than toward necessities created by others in order to make him do what they want.” 3 Both Friedman and Hayek here emphasize that libertarianism is a fundamentally
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 20

possessive_liber - Possessive Libertarianism1 1. What is...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online