Attempted Murder, Once Again

From: D
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 11:25 AM
Subject: Question on libertarian theory

Dr. Block,

As I understand, libertarian theory says if there is no identifiable victim who has suffered a quantifiable loss, no crime has occurred. What about the following scenario: Mr. Smith wants Mr. Jones dead. He’s spying on him and he sees Mr. Jones scoop some ice cream into a bowl. Mr. Jones then goes to the bathroom before eating it. Mr. Smith sneaks into the kitchen through an unlocked door, poisons the ice cream, and leaves without taking or damaging anything. While in the bathroom, Mr. Jones receives a call about an emergency that requires his immediate attention, so he leaves without eating the ice cream. When he gets home, it has melted and he dumps it in the sink. He has suffered no loss, but isn’t Mr. Smith guilty of the crime of attempted murder? D

Dear D: Yes, Smith is indeed guilty of attempted murder. But Jones did suffer a quatifiable loss: Smith threatened Jones’ life. The NAP of libertarianism proscribes not only initiatory violence, but the threat thereof. Smith threatened Jones, therefore Smith is a criminal. Jones did suffer a loss. Now, if no one (except Smith of course) knows about this, then and only then, did Jones suffer no loss. But, in this case, there’d be no one to accuse Smith of a crime, let alone prove it, since, unless Smith turns himself in to the forces of law and order.

Best regards,



11:45 am on May 3, 2019