Is There A Right To Life in the Libertarian Philosphy?

Letter 1

From: DontPeal MyOnion

Sent: Sunday, December 27, 2020 8:11 PM


Subject: Individual Rights

Hey, Mr. Block in one of your lectures you said “there’s no right to life” could you elaborate on why this is so? from 1:45 – 1:56

Letter 2

On Sun, Dec 27, 2020 at 8:53 PM Walter Block <> wrote:

Dear DPMO:

Who do I have the pleasure of communicating with?

Best regards,


Letter 6

Dear Richard:

That’s good enough for me. Now, to answer your question.

Libertarians oppose all positive rights, up to and including the so called right to life. We favor only negative rights: the right NOT to be murdered, NOT to be raped, NOT to be stolen from. All rights imply a correlative duty. So, with these rights, everyone has an obligation NOT to murder, NOT to rape, NOT to steal.

In very sharp contrast, positive rights also logically imply obligations. If people have a right to food, clothing and shelter, others have an obligation to supply those things to them. But, from whence do these obligations arise. From nowhere, since they are not legitimate rights. Rather, they constitute theft. If Peter has a right to food, then Paul is obliged to give food to him. But that constitutes theft from Paul.

Now, at long last, we arrive at the right to life. If I have a right to life, you are obliged to see to it that I remain alive. Thus, you become a slave of mine. I can order you to keep me alive, and you are legally obligated to obey me. I will then in effect have kidnapped you, enslaved you, but that is an obvious rights violation.

Right now, there are people dying in the poorer parts of our planet. If they have a right to life, then you and I and everyone else still living is a murderer. That’s nonsense on stilts.

Do you agree with this?

Best regards,



12:56 pm on April 22, 2021

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