Is It Compatible With Libertarian Law To Steal A Loaf Of Bread To Save A Child From Starvation? No.

Here is a series of back and forth letters on this subject. I admit, my position sounds callous. But, I insist, more lives of children and everyone else will be saved by upholding the non-aggression principle (NAP) of libertarianism, than by compromising this foundation of our entire philosophy. Let’s all try to be logically consistent libertarians.

Also see, at the very end of this blog, the best compilation of Hans Hoppe’s break-through defense of the NAP, on the basis of argumentation ethics, that I’ve been able to put together, with the help of Stephan Kinsella.

Letter 1

From: N

Sent: Monday, March 25, 2019 11:31 AM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Morally Justifiable Theft

Dear Dr. Block,

Some theft is morally justifiable. If I am starving to death, dying from lack of antibiotics, etc.

Does this not morally justify a very minimal level of government theft on consequentialist grounds? Surely organized and orderly theft is better for everyone involved than no system at all.

Letter 2

On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 12:39 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

I disagree. Deontologically, the issue is clear. But even from a pragmatic or utilitarian perspective: fewer people will starve to death, die from any other cause, if no one ever stole; there were no exceptions.

Letter 3

From: N

Sent: Monday, March 25, 2019 1:59 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Re: Morally Justifiable Theft

Surely it would be cheaper for us rich folk to pay, say, a 1% tax then have a higher crime rate from those starving to death trying to steal food?

Letter 4

On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 3:52 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

That’s irrelevant to deontology. My motto is: “Millions for defense, not a penny for tribute.”

Letter 5

From: N

Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 2:08 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Re: Morally Justifiable Theft

But you’re not a pure deontologist, are you? You’ve said yourself you would grab someone who is about to commit suicide. This is an extension of that consequentialism.

Letter 6

On Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 2:40 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

Tisn’t. I’d grab him, but then, as a deontologist, I’ll admit I’d be a criminal. Hopefully, in a private court, I would not be punished too severely. It is like pushing someone out of the way of an onrushing truck, and breaking his ribs. Is it assault and battery. Well, yes, sort of. But even a government court, I think, would go lightly on such a “criminal,” if he was found guilty of a crime in the first place.

Letter 7

From: N

Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 5:18 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Re: Morally Justifiable Theft

Would you say you were morally justified in taking the action? You must be able to answer yes or no. If the answer is yes then you agree that consequentialism can override deontology.

I don’t think you can have your cake and eat it.

Letter 8

On Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 5:23 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

Nice, try. But libertarians have no views on morality. In my own personal view, it would be moral to grab a person attempting suicide (initiate violence against him, kidnap him.) but, I don’t see how this logically implies that consequentialism can override deontology. Remember, I’m a criminal if I do that; that’s the deontology.

Letter 9

From: N

Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 5:50 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Re: Morally Justifiable Theft

How do you justify libertarianism if not by moral argument?

Letter 10

On Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 6:32 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

nap

Letter 11

From: N

Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2019 9:12 AM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Re: Morally Justifiable Theft

How do you justify the NAP?

Letter 12

Hoppe’s argument from argument. Do read that magnificent argument of his. Here’s a biblio:

(http://www.stephankinsella.com/2013/01/hoppe-on-treating-aggressors-as-mere-technical-problems/).

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1989. “The Ethical Justification of Capitalism and Why Socialism Is Morally Indefensible,” chapter 7, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1993. The Economics and Ethics of Private Property. Studies in Political Economy and Philosophy, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers

http://hanshoppe.com/publications/liberty_symposium.pdf in Liberty

Kinsella, Stephan. Defense of Hans’ argumentation ethics vis a vis Murphy and Callahan; http://www.anti-state.com/article.php?article_id=312

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_ethics

Argument from argument:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_ethics

Arguementation ethics, Argument from argument:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_ethics

hics”; see www.HansHoppe.com, go to publications, topics, argumentation ethics.http://www.mises.org/esandtam/pfe3.asp

From Stephan Kinsella:

Hoppe’s “argumentation ethic” defense of libertarian rights was first published, to my knowledge, in three articles in 1988: “On the Ultimate Justification of the Ethics of Private Property,” Liberty (September 1988); “The Justice of Economic Efficiency,” Austrian Economics Newsletter (Winter 1988); and a longer piece, “From the Economics of Laissez Faire to the Ethics of Libertarianism,” in: Walter E. Block  & Llewellyn H. Rockwell, eds., Man, Economy, and Liberty: Essays in Honor of Murray N. Rothbard (Mises Institute, 1988). These were included as chapters 10, 9, and 8, respectively, of Hoppe’s book The Economics and Ethics of Private Property (Kluwer, 1993). The most definitive elaboration of Hoppe’s theory is found in “The Ethical Justification of Capitalism and Why Socialism Is Morally Indefensible,” chapter 7 of his monumental A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism (Kluwer 1989; more info; hereinafter referred to as TSC ). This chapter is similar to the 1988 chapter in Man, Economy, and Liberty. These and other materials are available at Hoppe’s website.

Hoppe, 1988A, 1988B, 1988C, 1988D, 1993, 1995

Hoppe, Hans Hermann. 1988A. “On the Ultimate Justification of the Ethics of Private Property,” Liberty, September

Hoppe, Hans Hermann. 1988B. “The Justice of Economic Efficiency,” Austrian Economics Newsletter. Winter

Hoppe, Hans Hermann. 1988C. “From the Economics of Laissez Faire to the Ethics of Libertarianism,” in: Walter E. Block  & Llewellyn H. Rockwell, eds., Man, Economy, and Liberty: Essays in Honor of Murray N. Rothbard. Auburn, AL: The Mises Institute.

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1988D. “Utilitarians and Randians vs Reason.” Liberty (November): 53–54;http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1993. The Economics and Ethics of Private Property. Studies in Political Economy and Philosophy, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 204-207

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1995. Economic Science and the Austrian Method. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute; http://www.mises.org/esandtam/pes1.asp;

http://www.mises.org/esandtam/pfe3.asp; http://mises.org/pdf/esam.pdf

These were included as chapters 10, 9, and 8, respectively, of Hoppe’s book The Economics and Ethics of Private Property (Kluwer, 1993). The most definitive elaboration of Hoppe’s theory is found in “The Ethical Justification of Capitalism and Why Socialism Is Morally Indefensible,” chapter 7 of his monumental A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism (Kluwer 1989; more info; hereinafter referred to as TSC ). This chapter is similar to the 1988 chapter inMan, Economy, and Liberty. These and other materials are available at Hoppe’s website.

Bibliography, supporters of Hoppe::  argumentation ethics::

Block, 2004, 2011; Eabrasu, 2009; Gordon, 1988; Hoppe, 1988A, 1988B, 1988C, 1988D, 1993, 1995; Kinsella, 1996, 2002; Meng, 2002; Rothbard, 1988, Van Dun, 2009.

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. 2011. “Rejoinder to Murphy and Callahan on Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22, pp. 631–639;

http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_31.pdf

Eabrasu, Marian. 2009.  “A Reply to the Current Critiques Formulated Against Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics,”Libertarian Papers. Vol. I, No. 1;

http://libertarianpapers.org/2009/20-eabrasu-critiques-argumentation-ethics/

Gordon, David. 1988. “Radical & Quasi-Kantian.” Liberty (November): 46–47;http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Kinsella, Stephan. 1996. “New Rationalist Directions in Libertarian Rights Theory.” Journal of Libertarian Studies 12 (12): 323–38.

Kinsella, N. Stephan. 2002 [2011]. “Defending Argumentation Ethics: Reply to Murphy & Callahan,” Anti-state.com,Sept. 19 [July 2]; http://www.anti-state.com/article.php?article_id=312

Kinsella, Stephan N. 2011. “Argumentation Ethics and Liberty: A Concise Guide.” May 27;

http://mises.org/daily/5322/

Hoppe, Hans Hermann. 1988A. “On the Ultimate Justification of the Ethics of Private Property,” Liberty, September

Hoppe, Hans Hermann. 1988B. “The Justice of Economic Efficiency,” Austrian Economics Newsletter. Winter

Hoppe, Hans Hermann. 1988C. “From the Economics of Laissez Faire to the Ethics of Libertarianism,” in: Walter E. Block  & Llewellyn H. Rockwell, eds., Man, Economy, and Liberty: Essays in Honor of Murray N. Rothbard. Auburn, AL: The Mises Institute.

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1988D. “Utilitarians and Randians vs Reason.” Liberty (November): 53–54;http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1993. The Economics and Ethics of Private Property. Studies in Political Economy and Philosophy, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 204-207

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1995. Economic Science and the Austrian Method. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute; http://www.mises.org/esandtam/pes1.asp;

http://www.mises.org/esandtam/pfe3.asp; http://mises.org/pdf/esam.pdf

Meng, Jude Chua Soo. 2002. “Hopp(e)ing Onto New Ground: A Rothbardian Proposal for Thomistic Natural Law as the Basis for Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Praxeological Defense of Private Property.” Working paper, http://www.mises.org/journals/scholar/meng.pdf

Rothbard, Murray. 1988. “Beyond Is and Ought.” Liberty (November): 44–45; http://mises.org/daily/4629/Beyond-Is-and-Oughthttp://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Van Dun, Frank. 2009. “Argumentation Ethics and The Philosophy of Freedom.” Libertarian Papers, No. 19;http://libertarianpapers.org/2009/19-van-dun-argumentation-ethics/

Con:

Friedman, 1988; Murphy and Callahan, 2006; Steele, 1988; Yeager, 1988.

Friedman, David. 1988. “The Trouble with Hoppe: Some Brief Comments on Hoppe’s Justification of the Private Property Ethic.” Liberty, 2.2, November, 53–54.; http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/On_Hoppe.html;http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Murphy, Robert P. and Gene Callahan. 2006. “Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics: A Critique.” The Journal of Libertarian Studies. Vol. 20, No. 2, Spring, pp. 53-64; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/20_2/20_2_3.pdf

Steele, David Ramsay. 1988. “One Muddle After Another.” Liberty (November): 45–46;http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Yeager, Leland. 1988. “Raw Assertions.” Liberty (November): 45–46;http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

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3:16 pm on July 31, 2019