Saturday, May 13, 2017

Non-Aggression and Entitlement

Non-Aggression and Entitlement - George J. Dance, Nolan Chart:

May 6, 2017 - "Some non-libertarians, and even some libertarians, claim that the non-aggression principle is useless. So let us see how one can argue without it.

The non-aggression principle – the principle that it is wrong to initiate force against other people or their property – has long been considered a basic principle of libertarian political theory. John Locke, for example, founded his theory on the principle that, 'Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.' Herbert Spencer took, as his fundamental principle, that: 'Every man is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.” (stress added). Many contemporary libertarians rely on the principle as well. Ron Paul, for example, claims that:
The core of libertarianism is respect for the life, liberty and property rights of each individual. This means that no one may initiate force against another, as that violates those natural rights. While many claim adherence to this principle, only libertarians apply the non-aggression axiom to the state.
Given the prominence of the non-aggression principle (NAP) in libertarian argument, it is not surprising that anti-libertarians reject it. However, nowadays it is common to find even libertarians who reject the principle, as well.

Not surprisingly, few if any directly reject NAP, by arguing that aggression is not wrong. 'For most individuals believe, and fervently so,' as Walter Block notes, 'that it is wrong to invade other people or their property. Who, after all, favors theft, murder or rape?' What one encounters instead are attempts to deny that NAP is meaningful; that it actually says anything substantive.

For example, anti-libertarian Matt Bruenig, a well-known internet troll, has dismissed NAP as simply useless in resolving any dispute. According to him, 'Non-aggression never does any argumentative work at any time'.... 

"If Breunig’s point were simply that the non-aggression principle is not sufficient by itself to resolve all disputes, because one also has to know who is entitled to what, then he would have a point; but he would be attacking a strawman. Block, in the article already cited, made the very same point....

 "Which brings us to libertarian scholar Matt Zwolinski; for the idea that people can so agree without relying on the NAP, simply by agreeing on a theory of entitlement, is exactly what Zwolinski argues."

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