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Why Liberal Democracies Fail

We are currently witnessing the implosion of Greek society: basic goods and services are becoming scare, essential governmental functions are grossly neglected, and law and order is breaking down. This situation is deeply ironic given that Greece is the birthplace of democracy, and should cause us to wonder how such a thing can occur. This question is especially urgent because Greece is not only a first world, liberal democracy, but almost certainly not a special or isolated case. Rather, most probably, it is the first in a chain of falling dominoes all built on the same social model. Continue Reading »

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Libertarianism, Egalitarianism, and the Needy

Natural rights libertarianism and egalitarianism are often seen as representing the polar opposites of political theory. However, while this idea captures an important truth regarding these two ideals, it also may, as discussed below, obscure a critical feature of libertarian thinking. Specifically, I am referring to the fact that libertarians are absolutely indifferent to the distribution of holdings between individuals, provided that such holdings emerge from a morally unobjectionable process. Continue Reading »

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Robert Nozick: A Tribute Ten Years On

   January 23rd marks the tenth anniversary of Robert Nozick’s tragically premature death of stomach cancer at the age of 63. Few, if any, 20th century academic philosophers have had as consequential an impact on the world beyond the ivory tower.  It is worth, I believe, reflecting  for a moment or two regarding this remarkable life of ideas. Continue Reading »

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Style And Substance In ASU: A Reply To Barbara Fried

In 2005, Barbara Fried, a law professor at Stanford, published a 34-page essay titled “Begging the Question With Style: Anarchy, State and Utopia at Thirty Years.” Fried’s piece appeared in an anthology of philosophical writings dedicated to the memory of Robert Nozick, who had passed away three years before. (Natural Rights Liberalism from Locke to Nozick, Paul et al., eds.). An electronic version of Fried’s contribution is available here:

As we shall see, Fried’s essay is a strange, bordering on the bizarre piece of work, rife with intellectual dishonesty and manifestly unfair in its treatment of Nozick. Until now, it has received no rebuttal in the philosophical literature. I address it here both to challenge its characterization of Nozick’s most famous project, but also as an illustrative case study of the hysterical reaction of egalitarian-minded theorists to arguments that challenge their dogma. References to this essay below are in the form of “Begging,” plus the relevant page number in Natural Rights Liberalism. Continue Reading »

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Editorial Policy

I hope with this blog to foster a “marketplace of ideas” focused on the key controversies that motivate contemporary political theory, with an emphasis on those issues of particular salience to libertarians. It would be useful for readers to review the link “Natural Rights Libertarianism” before commenting on posts. I intend to publish, on roughly a monthly basis, some brief thoughts on a particular topic, and invite your comments. I will moderate the ensuing discussion and add additional remarks as appropriate.

I welcome participation by all persons, without regard to their philosophical/political beliefs. I will gladly consider suggestions for blog topics, as well as well-written, interesting guest posts. I claim no monopoly on the truth, and hope though this experience to learn as much as I teach.

My editorial policy is clear and simple. All points of view are welcome, and may be expressed passionately and with conviction. However, civility must be maintained, and name-calling, inappropriate language and ad hominem attacks will not be tolerated. Comments violating this policy will be swiftly deleted, and their originators blocked from the site.

Visitors to this site are welcome to quote passages from my posts consistent with the principle of “fair use.” However, please respect my intellectual property rights to this material and do not simply copy it on other sites without my express consent.

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