Libertarianisms

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Ed Feser writes on different kinds of libertarianisms. Two pieces of evidence for his case spring readily to mind: Murray Rothbard’s attack on modal libertarians (someone get this on the Web please!) and Roderick Long’s attack (just this last week) on religious conservatives in which he writes “…it is a mistake to suppose, as many paleolibertarians do, that religious conservatism can be combined in a stable fashion with political libertarianism.”

There’s much food for thought in Ed’s piece. I have a few quick comments. First, Roderick Long is one example of someone who doesn’t fit Ed’s categories. He is an Aristotelian but does not hold to “the very conservative moral views Aristotelian ‘natural end’ theories are usually thought to entail” or at least not as Ed would understand them. More fundamentally, Ed makes a case that “none of these doctrines takes liberty or freedom to be fundamental”. I, for one, figured that out quite a while ago in my study of libertarianism and I don’t think it is a statement that would shock any of the great libertarian thinkers. The point is that libertarians with very different moral philosophies nevertheless have come to rather similar conclusions in regards to the initiation of force being ruled out of civilized behavior. Ed makes much of some of the difficult cases though most libertarians argue that even these issues (like abortion) would be far less contentious in the absence of massive State intervention. I guess I just don’t find it so problematic that folks who are “rivals” in some areas are “allies” in others. Libertarianism as such just doesn’t help very much in finding ultimate answers on some issues, (like abortion). So what? It sure helps on a wide range of other quite important issues.

12:24 am on July 22, 2004
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