Libertarian Rectification: Restitution, Retribution, and the Risk-Multiplier
Journal of Value Inquiry 34 (2/3): 287-297 (2000)
8 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2019
Date Written: 2000
Libertarians typically object to the state‘s dealing with law and order for several general reasons: it is inefficient; it is carried out at the taxpayers‘ expense; it punishes ‗victimless crimes‘.1 Exactly what the observance of liberty implies with respect to the treatment of tortfeasors and criminals is more controversial among libertarians. A general theory of libertarian restitution2 and retribution is mainly what is attempted here. However, this general theory alone raises some practical problems that require some immediate response if the theory is to appear at all plausible. The main assumption is the hypothetical one that if liberty is to be observed as far as possible, then the imposition of a cost on (that is, the infraction of the liberty of) another person calls for libertarian rectification of some kind, as far as possible. What follows attempts both to derive and defend the consequences of this assumption. I also assume that the internalizing of illiberal externalities which this conception of liberty entails, is the best long-term strategy for maximizing welfare (in the sense of want-satisfaction); so I deal with any apparent problems with this that are peculiar to libertarian rectification. I assume throughout, to avoid unnecessary complications, that people have an initial libertarian claim to their persons and property (that is, that there is no imposition on others involved in these claims) before any impositions occur. I shall first outline how I interpret the general libertarian account and then look at two important problem areas.
Keywords: libertarian, restitution, retribution
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