This site is devoted to advancing the rights-based political philosophy first articulated by John Locke and championed prominently in our day by the late Robert Nozick in his classic Anarchy, State, and Utopia [1974].  It will do so by explaining minimal state libertarianism in a way that is accessible to the intelligent general reader and by hosting a forum that will subject its key ideas to scrutiny and debate.

I make my own modest contribution to this cause in my book, Nozick’s Libertarian Project: An Elaboration and Defense (London: Continuum International, 2011). My second book on this subject, Libertarian Philosophy in the Real World: The Politics of Natural Rights, was just published by Bloomsbury Academic. For additional information about libertarianism, this site, my books, and your host, please follow the links to the left.

New on the Blog

Sorry, All Rights are Not Property Rights

Many self-described libertarians hold the view that “all rights are property rights.” This idea appears to originate with Murry Rothbard. As he puts it,

In fact, there are no human rights that are separable from property rights. The human right of free speech is simply the property right to hire an assembly hall from the owners, or to own one oneself; the human right of a free press is the property right to buy materials and then print leaflets or books and to sell them to those who are willing to buy.  There is no extra “right of free speech” or free press beyond the property rights we can enumerate in any given case. And furthermore, discovering and identifying the property rights involved will resolve any apparent conflicts of rights that may crop up. (emphasis in original)[1]

Although he is less than pellucidly clear in this passage, I don’t believe that Rothbard is merely being descriptive. That is, he is saying something more than that the exercise of all rights requires the ownership of some form of property, which would imply nothing about the moral status of such property. Rather, I read him here, in combination with the remainder of the chapter from which this quotation is taken, as claiming that in all cases the wrong-making feature of impermissible acts against persons is the violation of the victim’s property rights. And, in my experience, this is how followers of Rothbard understand him. Continue Reading »

T. S. Eliot…Libertarian Hero

Having done my best to evict Thomas Szasz from the Libertarian pantheon, I feel that it is incumbent upon me to nominate a suitable replacement, and I believe I have found one. I speak of the great poet, playwright, and critic, T. S. Eliot. As far as I can tell, Eliot was not particularly active in or outspoken about his politics, but his most acclaimed play, Murder in the Cathedral, has unmistakable libertarian overtones.   Continue Reading »