Good for Rachel Weiner

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When the editor of the Washington Post’s The Fix had a question on libertarian philosophy and Ron Paul, she asked the greatest libertarian philosopher, David Gordon:


I’m doing something on whether Rep. Paul’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage are at odds with libertarianism. Any insight?


Responded David:

Hi Rachel,

Thanks very much for your note.

Ron Paul’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage seem to me entirely consistent with libertarianism.

Libertarians oppose initiating force and support the free market. These positions leave open the morality of abortion. Paul is  personally opposed to abortion and believes that the Constitution leaves this issue to the states. A claim that his view is at odds with libertarianism presupposes that libertarians must favor abortion. But why must they?

On same-sex marriage, his view is that marriage ought to be taken entirely out of the hands of the State and left to the voluntary arrangements of individuals. At present of course the State does regulate marriage. In these conditions, he thinks that the issue does not fall within the powers of the federal government.

Libertarianism as Ron Paul sees it, and in this I think he is correct, does not require that one embrace either abortion or same-sex marriage as positive goods. To argue the contrary is to yoke libertarianism to a particular set of social values. This to my mind is a mistake.

Best wishes.

For more David on this very important point, see What Is Libertarianism? and Must Libertarians Be Social Liberals?

5:53 pm on October 15, 2011