Austrian Reasons for Private Property Rights: A New Natural Law Retrieval of Hayek and Rothbard
41 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2013
Date Written: November 1, 2013
In this paper try to retrieve two arguments in favor of private property rights from the Austrian thinkers Fredrich Hayek and Murray Rothbard, through drawing on resources from new natural law theory defended by John Finnis and Germain Grisez and their collaborators. In Hayek‘s case, I explained how, given the manner in which practical reasoning can be obscured by theoretical means-end deliberations, the lack of private property rights and the slavish instrumentalization of thinking in the service of one‘s employer‘s goals obscures critical, moral consciousness-raising. In the case of Rothbard, I demonstrate the practical axiomatic status of the principle of original appropriation, otherwise called the "homesteading principle", and to show that it follows as a secondary precept of natural law from the more basic primary precept of natural law which prescribes the value and preservation of life; this manner of grounding a fundamental Austrian principle of ownership, in the (thomistic) new natural law theory should not be too alien to the spirit of Murray Rothbard‘s work and it is my belief that this will provide a credible meta-praxeological ground for the Austrian economic school. More importantly, these two standalone arguments, each with their own angles of attack, and possibly more robust, could perhaps stall the present sympathy for Marxist calls to abolish private property, driven by the current anti-capitalist fervor.
Keywords: Natural Law, Private Property, Capitalism, Finnis, Harvey, Hayek, Rothbard
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