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

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 »

What Everyone (Else) Has Wrong About Ferguson

So much has been written about the failure of the St. Louis County Missouri grand jury to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown that I hesitate to add my voice to the cacophony. Nevertheless, since I have yet to read a piece that I think gets to the heart of the matter, I feel justified in adding my proverbial “two cents.”

Most of the commentary, including from many libertarians, is critical of prosecutor Bob McCulloch for not securing an indictment, and thereby freeing Officer Wilson of all (state) criminal charges. These opinions generally argue that a trial jury should have been permitted to determine Wilson’s guilt or innocence. Prosecutor McCulloch, on this view, is at fault for short-circuiting this process, thus potentially allowing a guilty man to escape justice. Continue Reading »