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Together they put paid to the notion that a libertarian could favor minarchism. The usual statement of the first comes from Hobbes: Covenants, without the sword, are but words. That means that individuals cannot enter into binding agreements without some third party to enforce the agreement. Since entering into binding agreements is a central precondition for mutually beneficial exchange and broad-scale market cooperation, we need a powerful, neutral enforcer. So, we all agree on that; the enforcer collects the taxes that we all agreed on and, in exchange, enforces all our contracts for us.
See John Thrasher for some caveats. If man can no more bind himself by contract than he can jump over his own shadow, how can he jump over his own shadow and bind himself in a social contract? He cannot be both incapable of collective action and capable of it when creating the coercive agency needed to enforce his commitment. One can, without resorting to a bootstrap theory, accept the idea of an exogenous coercive agent, a conqueror whose regime is better than anything the conquered people could organize for themselves.
In sum, the former claim—that contracts cannot be enforced—cannot then be used to conjure enforceable contracts out of a shadow. The latter claim—that people will cooperate on their own—means that no state is necessary in the first place. The conclusion Jasay reaches is that states, if they exist, may well be able to compel people to obey.
The usual argument goes like this:. The state exists and enjoys the monopoly of the use of force for some reason, probably a historical one, that we need not inquire into. What matters is that without the state, society could not function tolerably, if at all. Therefore all rational persons would choose to enter into a social contract to create it. Jasay concludes that this argument must be false. For consent is what true political authority requires: not that our compliance can be compelled, but that the state deserves our compliance.
Of course, this is simply an extension of a long tradition in libertarian thought, dating at least to Lysander Spooner. As Spooner said:. If the majority, however large, of the people of a country, enter into a contract of government, called a constitution, by which they agree to aid, abet or accomplish any kind of injustice, or to destroy or invade the natural rights of any person or persons whatsoever, whether such persons be parties to the compact or not, this contract of government is unlawful and void—and for the same reason that a treaty between two nations for a similar purpose, or a contract of the same nature between two individuals, is unlawful and void.
Such a contract of government has no moral sanction. It confers no rightful authority upon those appointed to administer it. It confers no legal or moral rights, and imposes no legal or moral obligation upon the people who are parties to it. The only duties, which any one can owe to it, or to the government established under color of its authority, are disobedience, resistance, destruction.
We might make the standard Public Choice assumption that officials want to use power to benefit themselves, but let us put that aside; instead, officials genuinely want to improve the lives of their citizens. This means a minarchist state is not sustainable. Officials, thinking of the society as a collective rather than as individuals with inviolable rights, will immediately discover opportunities to raise taxes, and create new programs and new powers that benefit those in need. In fact, it is precisely the failure of the Public Choice assumptions of narrow self-interest that ensure this outcome.
It is enough that a few people believe, and can brandish the greater good like a truncheon, smashing rules and laws designed to stop the expansion of state power. No one who wants to do good will pass up a chance to do good, even if it means changing the rules.
This process is much like that described by F.
Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know® - Jason Brennan - Google Books
Citizens might conclude that such self-imposed limits on their own actions are morally required, and that reputation and competition can limit the extent of depredation and reward cooperation in settings with repeated interaction. Leviathan either cannot exist or else it is illimitable. What I have argued so far is that destinationist libertarianism that is fully faithful to the self-ownership principle and the non-aggression principle could not be an effective governing philosophy.
The only exception to this claim would be if libertarianism were universally believed, and people all agreed to govern themselves in the absence of a coercive state apparatus of any kind. Of course, one could object that even then something like a state would emerge, because of the economies of scale in the provision of defense, leading to a dominant protection network as described by Nozick.
My own view is that libertarianism is, and in fact should be, a philosophy of governing that is robust and useful. But then I am a thoroughgoing directionalist.
The state and its deputized coercive instruments have expanded the scope and intensity of their activities far beyond what people need to achieve cooperative goals, and beyond what they want in terms of immanent intrusions into our private lives. Given the constant push and pull of politics, and the desire of groups to create and maintain rents for themselves, the task of leaning into the prevailing winds of statism will never be done. But it is a coherent and useful governing philosophy.
The positing of an ideal is an important device for recruitment and discussion. But at this point we have been going in the wrong direction, for decades. It should be possible to find allies and fellow travelers. They may want to get off the train long before we arrive at the end of the line, but for many miles our paths toward smaller government follow the same track. The most basic principle to being a free American is the notion that we as individuals are responsible for our own lives and decisions.
We do not have the right to rob our neighbors to make up for our mistakes, neither does our neighbor have any right to tell us how to live, so long as we aren't infringing on their rights…. There are those that feel online gambling is morally wrong and financially irresponsible, which I do not argue with, but they also feel that because of this, the government should step in and prevent or punish people for taking part in these activities.
This attitude is anathema to the ideas of liberty. Libertarians appear to have a coherent moral philosophy, which includes a general opposition to forcing any particular moral code upon others. Note that Paul is not saying that gambling is morally acceptable. Rather, he is saying that negative liberty has a moral value that supersedes other moral considerations.
Libertarians seem willing to reject both liberal concerns for social justice  and conservative concerns for respecting existing social structure  when those concerns conflict with their superordinate interest in maintaining individual liberty. The goal of our first study is to confirm these observations by directly surveying a broad range of moral values and concerns, and testing whether self-described libertarians place a higher value on liberty and a lower value on other moral concerns, compared to self-described liberals and conservatives.
But what might explain the libertarian focus on liberty to the exclusion of other moral concerns? These moral attitudes have, in turn, been found to be associated with ideological self-identification  , . This work suggests that one explanation for the unique moral profile of libertarians is that they feel traditional moral concerns less than do most other people.
Tetlock, et al.
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Recent research in moral psychology has emphasized the importance of intuitive and emotional reactions in producing moral judgments that appear, on their face, to be based on principled reasoning  ,  , . Might libertarians be more tolerant on issues of private consensual behavior than conservatives because they exhibit lower levels of disgust sensitivity ? Might libertarians depart from liberals on social justice issues because they have weaker feelings of empathy ? Indeed, libertarian writers have historically been proud of the rational — rather than emotional — roots of their ideology .
The possible exception to this rule, of course, is the vigorous reaction libertarians often have to violations of personal freedom. Libertarians' characteristic pattern of emotional reactions and lack thereof may constrain the types of concerns that they moralize, which in turn affects their attraction to libertarian self-identification. We investigate this possibility in Study 2. Finally, emotional reactions, and the moral principles that derive from them, serve interpersonal functions  ,  , such as navigating the social world  and forming groups with others .
Libertarians may have a dispositional preference for independence, perhaps even for solitude, and therefore less use for moral principles that bind them to others. In The Fountainhead , Ayn Rand  writes about the importance of maintaining one's individuality within social relationships. Do libertarians identify less with the people in their lives, with groups, and with their nations? Do they derive less enjoyment from the company of others? This relative preference for individualism may gradually become moralized into a conscious endorsement of liberty as a moral principle  , predisposing them to a libertarian self-identification.
We investigate these possibilities in Study 3. In this paper, we let libertarians speak for themselves. We report the results of 16 surveys in which a total of 11, self-identified libertarians participated. We show how self-described libertarians differ from self-described liberals and conservatives not just on their moral beliefs, but on a variety of personality measures that, given previous research on the emotional  ,  and social origins of moral reasoning  ,  ,  , help us to understand why libertarians may hold their unique pattern of moral beliefs.
Our goal, however, was not just to describe the moral intuitions and dispositional traits of libertarians. Our second goal was to provide further evidence for the dispositional origins of ideology  ,  , the role of intuition in moral attitudes  , and the role that social functioning plays in moral thinking  ,  , .
The Joy Makers – James Gunn, 1961
More specifically, we sought to replicate tests of a predictive model of ideological identification  that is similar to McAdams' framework of personality. These stories often weave the level 1 and level 2 constructs into narratives that help people understand and justify their particular moral values. Haidt, Graham, and Joseph  modified McAdams' third level for work in political psychology by pointing out that not all of these stories are self-constructed.
We do not explicitly examine integrative narratives in this study, but when one gravitates toward an existing political party or ideology, one takes on many of the ideological narratives that have been laboriously constructed over decades by authors such as Ayn Rand who, not coincidentally, put most of her political philosophy into narrative form in her novels. To apply this model to the study of libertarians, we first show that libertarians do indeed have a distinct profile of moral concerns Study 1.
We then show that dispositional traits relate to ideological identification, and that this relationship is often mediated by moral intuitions, which can be thought of as a type of characteristic adaptation in McAdams' terminology Study 2. In Study 3, we show that specific moral concerns relate to distinct styles of social functioning, and that libertarians' unique moral profile relates to their social preferences.
Consistent with theories of parallel constraint satisfaction  , we show that libertarianism can be understood as a set of relationships between a broad number of dispositional traits, social preferences, and moral values. Libertarians will value liberty more strongly and consistently than liberals or conservatives, at the expense of other moral concerns. This expectation is based on the explicit writings of libertarian authors e. Libertarians will rely upon emotion less — and reason more — than will either liberals or conservatives. This expectation is based upon previous research on the affective origins of moral judgment  , as well as libertarians' own self-characterizations.
For example, one of the main libertarian magazines is called, simply, Reason. Libertarians will be more individualistic and less collectivist compared to both liberals and conservatives. This expectation is based upon previous research concerning the social function of moral judgment  ,  , . We evaluate these predictions in three studies using large web-based samples and a variety of measures related to morality, cognition, emotion, and social relatedness.
The analyses presented are based on data from , participants Results replicate within sub-samples collected before and after January , indicating that the findings of this paper were not greatly affected by current events that occurred during data collection. Only participants who were raised in the United States until at least the age of 14 were included in these analyses. Before each study, participants were presented with an IRB approved information sheet, detailing our contact information, participant rights, and study details, to which they were asked to agree.
Upon completion of each scale, a graph including the participant's own score in comparison to others is provided. Participants usually find YourMorals. As of January , 11, American visitors to YourMorals.