Welcome

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). I have a second book on this subject, Libertarian Philosophy in the Real World: The Politics of Natural Rights, forthcoming at the end of this year. For additional information about libertarianism, this site, my book, and your host, please follow the links to the left.

New on the Blog

Sorry, But I Don’t Give a Sh*t That You’re Offended

The Charlie Hebdo murders exposed a lot of ambivalence on the part of our leaders and public intellectuals regarding free expression. For example, the Pope all but apologized for this horrific crime, offering us the homey analogy that were even a dear friend to utter “a swear word against my mother, he’s going to get a punch in the nose. That’s normal.”[1] I guess it’s time to forget all about that silly “turn the other cheek” business.

Another prominent commentator condemned the murders unconditionally, but suggested that we, as a society, should ask ourselves, “Whether pens are swords or tools, are we using them well?”[ 2]. But, why should we ask that? When an aspiring Tolstoy turns out painfully bad fiction, should we question whether he is using prose in a responsible fashion? What’s suspect about bad painting, prose and poetry? Answer: because it may offend certain people.   Continue Reading »

Is Torturing Terrorists Always Wrong?

I find it revealing that the political controversy over the recently released Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s (majority) Report on the C.I.A.’s abuse of terrorism suspects focuses so heavily on the question of whether the alleged torture “worked,” that is to say, whether it produced valuable, life-saving information that could not be obtained by other means.[1] The nature of this debate suggests that the participants implicitly understand that the voting public would support torture if the benefits are significant enough. In contrast, most philosophers, including (especially?) libertarian types, appear to have a different view. Continue Reading »