Fascinating Challenges to Libertarianism.

From: E
Sent: Friday, June 07, 2019 8:24 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: is NAP sufficient for liberty


As I understand the NAP, it is about aggressive force. But what of defensive force?

The NAP does not require that I defend myself from an aggressor who would enslave me. So, wouldn’t you agree that if one does not use self defense, one is likely to lose their liberty? So, while the NAP is a good rule to decide what is legal, it is not necessarily a rule that guarantees liberty.

I can see one rebuttal, namely that a pacifist who refuses to defend themselves with defensive force would be making a choice, that they prefer non-violence more than their liberty. But wouldn’t that be like handing over your money when a robber says, “Your money or your life”. If it’s not a fully free choice, then it’s not liberty.

But maybe this is really just a problem with logic. Can a free man give up his freedom and still be free? It’s a little like who shaves the barber, if the barber shaves everyone who doesn’t shave themselves.

Regards, E

Dear E:

You raise a fascinating group of issues, challenges, to libertarianism. Thanks. This gives me a opportunity to further think about our beloved philosophy, libertarianism.

I do indeed agree that if one does not use self defense, one is likely to lose HIS liberty. If only a few people are pacifists, they can free ride on defenders of liberty willing to use violence. But, if all or most people are pacifists, I think they’ll be overrun by criminals.

The NAP does not at all “guarantee liberty.” It is only, along with private property rights, the foundation of libertarian law. In order to guarantee liberty, or at least promote it, you need a good physcial defense against criminals.

Can a free man give up his freedom and still be free? Excellent question, challenge, insight. My only answer to this is to offer you a bibliography of the literature on voluntary slavery. Well, if I had to give a yes or no answer, I’d say no. If you give up your freedom, either by voluntary slavery or conquest, then you are no longer free.

Best regards,


In the view of Boldrin and Levine (2008, 254): “Take the case of slavery. Why should people not be allowed to sign private contracts binding them to slavery? In fact economists have consistently argued against slavery – during the 19th century David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill engaged in a heated public debate with literary luminaries such as Charles Dickens, with the economists opposing slavery, and the literary giants arguing in favor.”

Andersson, 2007;  Block, 1969, 1979, 1988, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007A, 2007B, 2009A, 2009B; Frederick, 2014; Kershnar, 2003; Lester, 2000; Mosquito, 2014, 2015;  Nozick, 1974, pp. 58, 283, 331; Steiner, 1994, pp. 232; Thomson, 1990, pp. 283-84.

Andersson, Anna-Karin. 2007. “An alleged contradiction in Nozick’s entitlement theory.”

Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, Fall: 43–63; http://mises.org/journals/jls/21_3/21_3_3.pdf

Block, Walter E. 1969. “Voluntary Slavery.” The Libertarian Connection, Vol. I, No. 3, April 13, pp. 9-11.

Block, Walter E. 1979. Book review of Nancy C. Baker, Baby Selling: the Scandal of Black Market Adoptions, New York: The Vanguard Press, 1978; in Libertarian Review, January, Vol. 7, No. 12, pp. 44-45.

Block, Walter E. 1988. “Rent-a-womb market,” Thunder Bay Ontario Daily; June 26.

Block, Walter E. 1999. “Market Inalienability Once Again: Reply to Radin,” Thomas Jefferson Law Journal, Vol. 22, No. 1, Fall, pp. 37-88; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/market_inalienability.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2001. “Alienability, Inalienability, Paternalism and the Law: Reply to Kronman,” American Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 28, No. 3, Summer, pp. 351-371; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/reply_to_kronman.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2002.  “A Libertarian Theory of Secession and Slavery,” June 10; https://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block15.html;http://libertariantruth.wordpress.com/2006/12/08/a-libertarian-theory-of-secession-and-slavery/

Block, Walter E. 2003. “Toward a Libertarian Theory of Inalienability: A Critique of Rothbard, Barnett, Gordon, Smith, Kinsella and Epstein,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol.17, No. 2, Spring, pp. 39-85; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_3.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2004. “Are Alienability and the Apriori of Argument Logically Incompatible?” Dialogue, Vol. 1, No. 1. http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/2004/256gord6.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2005. “Ayn Rand and Austrian Economics: Two Peas in a Pod.” The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Vol. 6, No. 2, Spring, pp. 259-269

Block, Walter E. 2006. “Epstein on alienation: a rejoinder” International Journal of Social Economics; Vol. 33, Nos. 3-4, pp. 241-260

Block, Walter E. 2007A. “Secession,” Dialogue. No. 4; pp. 1-14;  http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/2007/4.07.WB.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2007B. “Alienability: Reply to Kuflik.” Humanomics Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 117-136;http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=0685BBB744173274A5E7CE3803132413?contentType=Article&contentId=1626605

Block, Walter E. 2009A. “Yes, Sell Rivers! And Make Legal Some Slave Contracts” The Tyee. July 25;http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2009/07/24/SellRivers/

Block, Walter E. 2009B. “Privatizing Rivers and Voluntary Slave Contracts” July 27;


Boldrin, Michele & David K. Levine. 2008. Against Intellectual Monopoly. http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/against.htm

Frederick, Danny. 2014. “Voluntary Slavery,” Las Torres de Lucca 4: 115-37, http://www.lastorresdelucca.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=145:laesclavitud-


Kershnar, Stephen. 2003. “A Liberal Argument for Slavery,” Journal of Social Philosophy, 34

(4): 510-36.

Lester, Jan Clifford. 2000. Escape from Leviathan. St. Martin’s Press.http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312234163/qid%3D989845939/107-8070279-6411737

Mosquito, Bionic. 2014. “The Sanctity of Contract.” April 19;


Mosquito, Bionic. 2015. “Walter Block, Specific Performance Contracts, and Abortion.” July 12;http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2015/07/walter-block-specific-performance.html

Nozick, Robert. 1974. Anarchy, State and Utopia, New York: Basic Books, http://www.amazon.com/Anarchy-State-Utopia-Robert-Nozick/dp/0465097200

Steiner, Hillel. 1994. An Essay on Rights, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers

Thomson, Judith Jarvis. 1990. The Realm of Rights, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press


5:06 pm on June 12, 2019