An Anti-Libertarian Reader

January 3, 2009

Five Common Libertarian Arguments Debunked

Filed under: bloggers — Tags: — jimmy0d @ 9:00 am

I would like to give a hat tip to the Homosecular Gaytheist for pointing me to a blogger named Thrawn. Thrawn shares our annoyance and frustration with what we see as the self evident failings of libertarianism. So he created a series of posts dismantling the five arguments laid out by Edward Feser on

His Mission Statement:

The more conservative the right wing gets, the more liberal the left. Libertarianism is becoming increasingly popular, especially on the Internet. In my opinion, libertarianism takes both liberal and conservative too far.

Under many forms of the idea, libertarianism is just another word for liberal. A moderate libertarian might argue that people should be left to themselves when their actions do not harm others, and the free market should be maintained. This is generally a good idea.

Unfortunately, some go too far. “Extremist” libertarians, or – anarcho – capitalists as some have taken to calling themselves – claim that government in any form is “evil” or “immoral”. Here, I present responses to some of their most common arguments for this surprisingly popular viewpoint.

1. The Free Market
The Argument Debunked:

The utilitarian argument, the suggestion that a free market and free society best fulfil the goals – prosperity, alleviation of poverty, technological innovation, and so forth.

2. Inviolable Rights
The Argument Debunked:

The natural rights argument, which emphasizes the idea that individuals have inviolable rights to life, liberty, and property that it is morally wrong for anyone, including the state, to violate even for allegedly good reasons (such as taxation for the sake of helping the needy).

3. Cultural Evolution
The Argument Debunked:

The argument from cultural evolution, associated with F.A. Hayek, who held that societies embody cultural traditions which compete with one another in a kind of evolutionary process, the most “fit” traditions – those most conducive to human well-being – being the ones that survive and thrive, driving their rivals into extinction, or at least onto the historical sidelines: hence capitalism’s victory over communism, a culture which respects private property, contract, and the rule of law being superior in cultural evolutionary terms to one which does not.

4. The Social Contract
The Argument Debunked:

The contractarian argument, which (greatly to oversimplify) argues in general that all moral claims rest on a (hypothetical) “social contract” between the individuals comprising society, and in particular that a libertarian society is what rational individuals would contract for. This sort of argument is represented by such libertarian theorists as Jan Narveson and James Buchanan.

5. The Value of Freedom
The Argument Debunked:

The argument from liberty, which claims that freedom per se is intrinsically valuable – valuable for its own sake – and that the best political system is therefore the one that maximizes freedom.

Keep up the good work Thrawn.


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