Vallentyne 2010 and Zwolinski 2008 on 'Libertarianism': Some Philosophical Responses to these Encyclopaedia Articles

Explaining Libertarianism: Some Philosophical Arguments. Buckingham, England: The University of Buckingham Press, pp. 43-63 (2014)

13 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2019

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

Vallentyne 2010 and Zwolinski 2008 are internet encyclopaedia articles on “libertarianism” which include various serious faults. Vallentyne 2010 has the following ones. It does not properly explain mainstream libertarianism or consider criticisms of it. Instead, it mainly discusses self-ownership and natural-resource egalitarianism. Every aspect of the alleged “strict sense” of “libertarianism” is dubi ous, at best. So- called “left - libertarianism” is not made sense of as any kind of liberty-based libertarianism. Problems arise because self-ownership is assumed to be libertarian without an explicit theory of libertarian liberty. The replies to “five impor tant objections to full self- ownership” are confused and mistaken; both as regards philosophical analysis and as regards empirical assumptions. The long discussion about various ways to “Appropriate Natural Resources” is rendered muddled and barren by the lack of a clear libertarian theory of liberty, the mere presumption of some form of egalitarianism, and the inclusion of various non-libertarian criteria. The remaining sections are largely uninformed by any relevant libertarian literature. It reaches a justificationist conclusion that cites mistaken welfare concerns and ignores the productivity of free markets. Zwolinski 2008 shares some errors with Vallentyne 2010, but also includes the following ones. It is even less clear about what libertarian liberty is. It fails to understand that libertarianism (private-property anarchy and, possibly, minarchy) is a subset of classical liberalism. It asserts that libertarianism is about “the proper role of government.” It assumes (illogical) justificationist/foundationalist epistemology and does not mention critical-rationalist libertarianism. It eventually faults justificationism and unwittingly assumes something approaching critical rationalism. Finally, it embraces John Rawls’s “overlapping consensus” as a “justification” (i.e., defence) of libertarianism oblivious to the similar position in Lester 1996 and 2000.

Keywords: libertarianism, Vallentyne, Zwolinski

Suggested Citation

Lester, J. C., Vallentyne 2010 and Zwolinski 2008 on 'Libertarianism': Some Philosophical Responses to these Encyclopaedia Articles (2014). Explaining Libertarianism: Some Philosophical Arguments. Buckingham, England: The University of Buckingham Press, pp. 43-63 (2014), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3475139

J. C. Lester (Contact Author)

London School of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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