An Insightful Critique of Thick Libertarianism by a Thin Libertarian

Below, see a very powerful argument in favor of thin libertarianism, and a masterful critique of the thick variety thereof. Afterwards, see my reply to this author.

From: KW
Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2016 10:05 AM
Subject: The Trolley Challenge to Libertarianism, David Friedman, Law, Ethics, ERE Blog Post
Walter- It is so gratifying to have a libertarian heavyweight such as yourself vindicating my views. I have gotten into many disagreements about whether or not the NAP is a legal or moral theory. I think it gets confusing for many people because even though the NAP isn’t a moral theory it is the only moral legal theory. However it’s hard for me to articulate exactly why this is. It has something to do with the fact that it is universal, that is it applies to all people at all times in all situations, and it is concerned solely with justice not rehabilitation, harm reduction, costs to society or any of the other ways in which modern legal theory deviates from pure justice. But I run into people who seem to me very libertarian on very libertarian websites that can’t or won’t get this very important distinction between moral and legal. In my view this causes additional problems because it opens the door for people to try to make the NAP mean their personal morality. The problem is to me the NAP doesn’t cover many immoral things. There are numerous examples of how activities that are legal according to the NAP that I personally think would be immoral. One important thing that is popping up all the time is bigotry. In my mind the NAP doesn’t prevent bigotry on the contrary in many cases it allows bigotry. I don’t think they should have to bake the cake or ice it. I don’t think a private religious organization should have to marry people it doesn’t want to marry or even have those people included in their rites and ceremonies. This is because the NAP makes it illegal to force people to associate with people they don’t want to associate with. This sticks in the craw of many libertarians who want the NAP to mean being a good person. But if we are going to have a coherent legal theory the NAP must mean only one thing. Non aggression against peaceful people. How do we convince otherwise good libertarians that this is an important distinction that must be emphasized? KW

Dear KW: Heavyweight? As Elvis once crooned, “Don’t be cruel.” Hey, I’m TRYING to lose weight. On a more serious note, thanks for your kind comments about me. You ask: “How do we convince otherwise good libertarians that this is an important distinction that must be emphasized?” My answer is, by you writing what you wrote, by me giving a megaphone on this blog. I urge you to expand your brilliant analysis of this important question, quote and cite some of the thicksters, and then “rake them fore and aft” in the lingo of fighting ships under sail. That is, get such an essay published in a refereed journal.


2:06 pm on October 3, 2016

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