Some Critical Comments on Long 2013: 'Why Libertarians Believe There is Only One Right'
Explaining Libertarianism: Some Philosophical Arguments. Buckingham, England: The University of Buckingham Press, pp. 85-94 (2014)
6 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2019
Date Written: 2014
This essay explains various significant errors, imprecisions, and omissions concerning libertarianism in Long 2013. The “right not to be aggressed against” is not, as such, the libertarian right because the ‘right to liberty’ must be that right (although not being aggressed against can charitably be interpreted as equivalent). There are non-libertarian rights, but they don’t override the right to liberty. Unsupported assumptions are inevitable because justifications are impossible. Rights should not be “defined” but, rather, morally and metaphysically theorised — with criticism permanently invited. Moral and legal permissibility need to be clearly distinguished. The conceptions of “aggression” and “force” are normative and confused. It is possible to advocate the right to liberty on no grounds whatsoever and also to conjecture that liberty (deontologically) and welfare (consequentially) are systematically compatible in practice for theoretical and causal reasons. The rejection of positive rights is “privileging” and not “conceptual”. Libertarian property needs to be derived from an explicit, non-normative, theory of libertarian liberty. Long 2013’s overall account is “mysterious” and “one-sided”.
Keywords: libertarianism, Roderick Long, rights
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