Week 3 – Justice – Libertarianism In response to the flaws of utilitarianism, we began to examine libertarian theories of rights, which are based on the concept of a fundamental right to liberty. Specifically, libertarianism states that individual rights are more important than the idea of consequentialist utility (adding up preferences and values), as described by Mill and Bentham. These individual rights take the form of our right to live freely, so long as we respect other people’s rights to do the same. The role of government, libertarians argue, should be limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence (unalienable rights – life, liberty and property) . Thus a government should: 1. Avoid paternalism – including laws protecting people from themselves (seat-belts, cannibalism, etc). The choice should be left to the people. 2. Avoid morals legislation – prostitution, flag burning, pornography, etc. These are a violation of liberty. 3.
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This note was uploaded on 03/29/2012 for the course ER 022 taught by Professor Michaelsandel during the Fall '10 term at Harvard.