A Libertarian Response to Macleod 2012: 'If You’re a Libertarian, How Come You’re So Rich?'

Explaining Libertarianism: Some Philosophical Arguments. Buckingham, England: The University of Buckingham Press, pp. 95-105 (2014)

7 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2019

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

This is a response to Macleod 2012's argument that the history of unjust property acquisitions requires rich libertarians to give away everything in excess of equality. At first, problematic questions are raised. How much property is usually inherited or illegitimate? Why should legitimate inheritance be affected? What of the burden of proof and court cases? A counterfactual problem is addressed. Three important cases are considered: great earned wealth; American slavery; land usurpation. All are argued to be problematic for Macleod 2012's thesis. Various problems are explained concerning using the Nozickian argument to decide the alleged excess that rich libertarians own. The essay's main error is the presupposition that free markets do not help the worst-off. The majority of unjust holdings today are not the result of historical injustices but arise through continuing transfers enabled by taxation and state-regulation. More study of libertarian contributions to the social sciences and philosophy would appear to be desirable "personal behavior" among socialists.

Keywords: libertarianism, Colin Macleod, rich libertarians

Suggested Citation

Lester, J. C., A Libertarian Response to Macleod 2012: 'If You’re a Libertarian, How Come You’re So Rich?' (2014). Explaining Libertarianism: Some Philosophical Arguments. Buckingham, England: The University of Buckingham Press, pp. 95-105 (2014), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3477532 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3477532

J. C. Lester (Contact Author)

London School of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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