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 published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2015. For additional information about libertarianism, this site, my books, and your host, please follow the links to the left.

New on the Blog

Positive Duties and Open Borders

I am pleased to announce Danny Frederick’s and my paper, “The Liberal Defense of Immigration Control,” has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed, open access journal, Cosmos + Taxis.  I will link to this journal when our paper becomes available.  As you may know from prior posts, and as reflected in our title, we argue there that the characteristic duty of a liberal state is to secure “the maximum freedom of each person that is compatible with the equal freedom of all persons,” and that this obligation may in the circumstances we hypothesize require restrictions on immigration.

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“The Liberal Defense of Immigration Control” Gets Cited

Danny Frederick’s and my paper “The Liberal Defense of Immigration Control” is still wanting a publisher. That’s the bad news. However, the good news is that even so it was recently referenced and discussed in the online magazine Quillette, one of the leading forums for classical liberal views. Specifically, Sam Kiss (a just-minted academic philosopher) in his essay “Is Liberal Immigration Anti-Democratic?—A Reply to Gadi Taub,” writes the following:

Some accept a fiduciary argument that says we may reconcile liberal rights with restrictionism because one of these rights is the right to strong liberal institutions. Taub hints at this kind of justification when he criticizes immigration to Europe and Israel. The idea is that allowing immigration, particularly immigration from authoritarian, conservative societies, threatens liberal institutions in the long-term. To their credit, the main proponents of the fiduciary argument, Danny Frederick and Mark D. Friedman, admit the evidence they have for believing immigration would weaken liberal institutions is limited. Since immigration restrictions are stringent, extensive restrictions on citizens, the evidence would have to be decisive. This isn’t the only problem with the fiduciary argument. What if institutions only count as strong liberal institutions if they have opened their borders? The reply may be that some features of liberal institutions matter more than others: whatever rights immigration restrictions violate are less important than any they supposedly protect. As immigration restrictions are so similar to restrictions on certain rights almost all liberals accept are basic, we’d have to look to citizenship to explain things here too. And the explanation can’t be circular. 

   Naturally, I am delighted that the ideas that Danny and I have worked so hard to develop and articulate have received this recognition. I will in due course address the reservations Kiss expresses about the “fiduciary argument,” but since I find the exchange between Taub and Kiss quite thought provoking in its own right, I will enter this discussion in broader terms.

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