Privacy rights? A Non-Response to Rozeff and Wenzel

I regard Bob Wenzel and Mike Rozeff as two of the most gifted and insightful libertarian theorists now actively writing. I highly respect both. Each has made important contributions to our understanding of, and appreciation of, our beloved libertarian philosophy. Both have taken issue with a blog I recently wrote on concerning privacy: “Privacy Rights? No.”

Here are their critiques:

Bob Wenzel:

Mike Rozeff:

I shall not now write, substantively, in defense of my recent blog, and in criticism of theirs’. I don’t regard this venue, LRC, as an appropriate venue for leading libertarian theoreticians to thrash out such complex matters, in an attempt to get that proverbial one millionth of an inch closer to the Truth. Instead, I invite both of them to write up their views on privacy and the libertarian theory thereof, in the scholarly peer reviewed refereed journal literature. There, we can issue thousands of words on this subject. In order to help them in this pursuit, I now offer several targets (in my view, the one from Murray Rothbard is definitive), which can easily be incorporated into a reference section, for a scholarly paper:

Block, 1991, 2012, 2013A, 2013B, ch. 18, 2016, 2017; Block, Kinsella and Whitehead, 2006; Rothbard, 1998

Block, Walter E. 1991. “Old Letters and Old Buildings,” The Freeman Ideas on Liberty, March, pp. 96,;

Block, Walter E. 2012. “Rozeff on Privacy: A Defense of Rothbard.” December 13;

Block, Walter E. 2013A. “There Is No Right to Privacy.” July 13; There Is No Right to Privacy There Is No Right to Privacy;;;

Block, Walter E. 2013B. Defending the Undefendable II: Freedom in all realms; Terra Libertas Publishing House. Chapter on the “peeping tom”:
Block, Walter E. 2013B. Defending the Undefendable II: Freedom in all realms; Terra Libertas Publishing House;;; isbn: 9781908089373;;;;;;;

Block, Walter E. 2016. “So-called Privacy Rights Are Incompatible with our Libertarian Philosophy.” September 23;

Block, Walter E. 2017. “Privacy Rights? No.” May 1;

Block, Walter, Stephan Kinsella and Roy Whitehead. 2006. “The duty to defend advertising injuries caused by junk faxes: an analysis of privacy, spam, detection and blackmail.” Whittier Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 925-949;;

Rothbard, Murray N. 1998 [1982]. The Ethics of Liberty, New York: New York University Press.

States Rothbard (1998, ch. 16) “But is there really such a right to privacy? How can there be? How can there be a right to prevent Smith by force from disseminating knowledge which he possesses? Surely there can be no such right. Smith owns his own body and therefore has the property right to own the knowledge he has inside his head, including his knowledge about Jones. And therefore he has the corollary right to print and disseminate that knowledge. In short, as in the case of the ‘human right’ to free speech, there is no such thing as a right to privacy except the right to protect one’s property from invasion. The only right ‘to privacy’ is the right to protect one’s property from being invaded by someone else. In brief, no one has the right to burgle someone else’s home, or to wiretap someone’s phone lines. Wiretapping is properly a crime not because of some vague and woolly ‘invasion of a “right to privacy”,’ but because it is an invasion of the property right of the person being wiretapped.”


4:26 pm on May 6, 2017