Libertarian Punishment Theory

From: N
Sent: Thursday, July 11, 2019 4:59 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Compensation for Victims of the State

Dear Dr. Block,

Do you think that the rich (who have had more stolen from them) should receive a larger slice of the pie when the government is liquidated? Even someone with zero income seems to be entitled to some compensation as the government did at least violate their civil liberties by banning drugs, prostitution, etc.

Also, do you think that criminal government employees should have at least a portion of their assets seized to pay the victims of the state?

Should government criminals (who also pay taxes) be entitled to any compensation for the taxes they pay (even if it is offset by seizure of their property)?

Thank you for your time, N.

Dear N:

Yes, I think these results are compatible with libertarian punishment theory. Here are some references on that:

In the view of Rothbard (1998, p. 88, ft. 6): “It should be evident that our theory of proportional punishment—that people may be punished by losing their rights to the extent that they have invaded the rights of others—is frankly a retributive theory of punishment, a ‘tooth (or two teeth) for a tooth’ theory. Retribution is in bad repute among philosophers, who generally dismiss the concept quickly as ‘primitive’ or ‘barbaric’ and then race on to a discussion of the two other major theories of punishment: deterrence and rehabilitation. But simply to dismiss a concept as ‘barbaric’ can hardly suffice; after all, it is possible that in this case, the ‘barbarians’ hit on a concept that was superior to the more modern creeds.” For more in this vein see Block, 1999, 2002-2003, 2003A, 2003B, 2004A, 2004B, 2006, 2009A, 2009B; Block, Barnett and Callahan, 2005; Gregory and Block, 2007; Kinsella, 1996; Marjanovic, 2013; Morris, 1968; Nozick, 1981, pp. 363-373; Olson, 1979; Rothbard, 1998, 88; Rothschild and Block, 2016; Whitehead and Block, 2003

Block, Walter E. 1999. “Market Inalienability Once Again: Reply to Radin,” Thomas Jefferson Law Journal, Vol. 22, No. 1, Fall, pp. 37-88;;

Block, Walter E. 2002-2003. “Berman on Blackmail: Taking Motives Fervently,” Florida State University Business Review, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 57-114

Block, Walter E. 2003a. “Libertarianism vs. Objectivism; A Response to Peter Schwartz,” Reason Papers, Vol. 26, Summer, pp. 39-62

Block, Walter E. 2003b. “The Non Aggression Axiom of Libertarianism,” February 17;

(15th floor flagpole)

Block, Walter E. 2004a. Austrian Law and Economics: The Contributions of Adolf Reinach and Murray Rothbard, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 7, No. 4, Winter, pp. 69-85

Block, Walter E. 2004b. “Reply to Frank van Dun’s ‘Natural Law and the Jurisprudence of Freedom,’” Journal of Libertarian Studies. Vol. 18, No. 2, Spring, pp. 65-72.

Block, Walter E. 2006. “Radical Libertarianism: Applying Libertarian Principles to Dealing with the Unjust Government, Part II” Reason Papers, Vol. 28, Spring, pp.  85-109;;

Block, Walter E. 2009A. “Toward a Libertarian Theory of Guilt and Punishment for the Crime of Statism” in Hulsmann, Jorg Guido and Stephan Kinsella, eds., Property, Freedom and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, pp. 137-148;

Block, Walter E. 2009B. “Libertarian punishment theory: working for, and donating to, the state” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 1;

Block, Walter E., William Barnett II and Gene Callahan. 2005. “The Paradox of Coase as a Defender of Free Markets,” NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 1075-1095;

Gregory, Anthony and Walter E. Block. 2007. “On Immigration: Reply to Hoppe.” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, Fall, pp. 25-42;

Kinsella, Stephen. 1996. “Punishment and Proportionality: the Estoppel Approach,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring, pp. 51-74;

Marjanovic, Marko. 2013. “Least, Sufficient Force: Libertarian Theory of Defense/” January 7;

Morris, Herbert. 1968. “Persons and Punishment.” The Monist. Volume 52, Issue 4: October, pp. 475 – 501;

Nozick, Robert. 1981. Philosophical Explanations, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Olson, Charles B. 1979. “Law in Anarchy.” Libertarian Forum. Vol. XII, No. 6, November-December, p. 4;

Rothbard, Murray N. 1998. The Ethics of Liberty, New York: New York University Press.;

Rothschild, Daniel Y. and Walter E. Block. 2016. “It Is Not Armed Robbery When Government Takes People’s Stuff, It Is Civil Asset Forfeiture.” Journal of Social and Administrative Sciences September, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 219-230;

Whitehead, Roy and Walter E. Block. 2003. “Taking the assets of the criminal to compensate victims of violence: a legal and philosophical approach,” Wayne State University Law School Journal of Law in Society Vol. 5, No. 1, Fall, pp.229-254


3:11 am on September 10, 2019