Criticism of the Libertarian Account of Political Values and Market Principles
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
International Journal of Politics & Ethics, Vol. 1, p. 213, 2001
Libertarianism has evident attractions. One is that its tenets are simple and direct. The libertarian reduces complexities to simpler formulations that can be solved as a function of the affected personal liberties. There is a purported 'primordial natural fact' of personal freedom and the claim is that collective behavior diminishes it. Libertarianism also has psychological attractions. It emphasizes the potency of initiative and self-sufficiency.
However, the celebration of personal liberty and individual initiative is not reserved to libertarianism; they are also key values for competing political and social theories. A concern for the potential arrogance and ineptitude of government actions similarly runs across alternative political theories, even those that ultimately opt for considerable government involvement in social and economic affairs. This paper describes the mistaken view that only a theory that focuses exclusively upon the protection of personal liberties is adequately protective of those liberties. A discussion of the genesis and architecture of that view will help reveal the mistake. This paper also discusses the conflation of the protection of personal liberties with the promotion of market practices. By equating economic liberties with personal liberties, libertarianism fails to discriminate market priorities from political priorities.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 10
Keywords: libertarianism, economics, political theory
Date posted: September 1, 2009
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