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). 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

The Solution to the Problem of Free Will

Guest post by Danny Frederick

The traditional problem of free will arose out of theology. God was supposed to know everything, in which case He would have perfect foreknowledge. But if God knows beforehand what we are going to do, how can we be free either to do it or not?

In the Enlightenment, the problem arose out of science, specifically, the success of Newton’s theory. For here was a clear and (relatively) simple theory of the world, expressed in precise mathematical formulae, which made predictions about the motions of every kind of matter, whether large or small, whether on earth or in the heavens, whether solid or fluid; and the predictions were borne out by experimental testing. Furthermore some of the predictions were very surprising and counterintuitive, so people expected them to fail; yet they also survived testing. The theory was even used to predict the existence, size and orbit of a planet in the solar system which no one had previously known about; and when telescopes were pointed in the relevant portion of the night sky, there it was! Neptune was discovered. People could not believe that this theory could be false. It was generally accepted as firmly established truth. The success of Newton’s theory marked the transition from the open-minded and critical Renaissance to the dogmatic Enlightenment. Continue Reading »

Two Quick Thoughts on the Minimum Wage

Our blue states and “progressive” major cities now seem to be competing to determine which jurisdiction can establish the highest minimum wage. At this moment, Los Angeles is in the lead at $15.37/hour (for hotel workers), with Seattle and San Francisco close behind at $15.00 (all workers). Obviously, such laws violate the freedom of employers and employees to enter into consensual arrangements at any rate of compensation below the legal floor, and thus are ruled out on libertarian principles.

Sadly, the electorate is generally unmoved by appeals to abstract notions like freedom of contract, so opponents of such laws often resort to a handy reductio ad absurdum: if raising the minimum wage to $15/hr. is such a great idea, why stop there; why not $30/hr. or even $150/hr.? The point of this argument is easy to grasp, even by the economically illiterate. Clearly, a floor of $150/hr. would not produce wealthy workers, but would instead generate layoff notices for most of them. Continue Reading »