London School of Economics
Department of Philosophy and Department of Government
PhD, 1991
London, London, City of, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  •  34
    The Julius Blumfeld review (the review) of Escape from Leviathan (EfL) includes various kind words and especially welcome criticisms. This reply attempts to respond to the criticisms as best as it can. There have been further replies to criticisms, additional articles, and even books clarifying and developing this overall philosophical theory of libertarianism in the time that has elapsed since the first version of this reply. Consequently, it is now possible to revise it to make it somewhat cle…Read more
  •  22
    Readers of “Falsificationism Redux” (the rejoinder) may have found it to be another waffling non-explanation of induction and the alleged falsity of falsificationism—or even self-refuting, as its title indicates (redux: brought back, revived, restored). However, it seems worth another round of replies if only because the arguments are fairly typical of the would-be ‘inductivist’ and it might help some people who have yet to see how these arguments fail.
  •  33
    Epistemology is often a problem for libertarianism. Many libertarian texts assume that they need to do more than explain and defend the libertarian conjecture. Instead, they try to offer epistemological support for it (whether empirically or morally); which falsificationism and, more broadly, critical rationalism explains is not possible. Moreover, they often mistake this attempt at support for an explanation of libertarianism (which ought to include an abstract theory of liberty and how it rel…Read more
  •  23
    The review cites the “Open Society” twice in its title—and is clearly pro-Popperian—but then fails to mention the fourteen-point list, and surrounding discussion, that explicitly compares Popper’s critical rationalism with anarcho-libertarianism (strong similarities) and liberal democracy (strong dissimilarities); EfL, pp.135-142. If the review had engaged more closely with the arguments of EfL and been more informed by the relevant social scientific literature, then it would probably have foun…Read more
  •  24
    Contra critical rationalism, the response begins by referring to “the variety of internalist and externalist versions of foundationalism” (Liberty, December 2002). But it makes no attempt to explain or defend any of them. Hence, no further criticism is due here. The response then argues that, “The critical rationalist method seems to suggest that Lester’s extreme compatibility thesis is probably false” because—quoting Escape from Leviathan (EfL)—“bold universal theories might be false, and proba…Read more
  •  36
    The central classical liberal insight is that private property appears both to protect personal liberty and to promote general productivity. By way of philosophically clarifying this insight, Escape from Leviathan (EfL) posits the extreme classical liberal, or libertarian, Compatibility Thesis: there is no long-term, systemic, practical conflict among economic rationality, interpersonal liberty, human welfare, and private-property anarchy (i.e., four plausible and relevant theories of these that…Read more
  •  44
    The following essay responds to a draft article that criticises the theory of libertarian restitution in Escape from Leviathan (EFL). The article was freely available to internet search engines. Hence, it seems fair and useful to reply to these very welcome objective criticisms. It is not intellectually relevant that its author might subsequently and subjectively have thought better of them, possibly as a result of the earlier version of this reply. Generally, the article misconstrues the posit…Read more
  •  47
    A rejoinder to “Escape from Lester: A Reply from a so-called ‘Philistine’” (Libertarian Alliance website). For clarity: Escape from Leviathan (EFL/book), the Brooks review (review), the Lester response (response), the Brooks reply to the response (reply).
  •  57
    It is possible to pose many difficult and fascinating problems and criticisms for the various theses and arguments in Escape from Leviathan (EFL). This occurred while writing it, and various sharp minds did it on reading drafts or the final product. However, some reviews misunderstand, or ignore, what is written and reassert conventional views. But it is best to answer all published criticisms if only to show how they fail, lest anyone thinks they are sound, and even poor criticisms can sometime…Read more
  •  77
    Primarily using philosophy, but also some social science, Escape from Leviathan (EFL) explains and defends what it calls an extreme version of the implicit ‘classical liberal compatibility thesis’: liberty, welfare, and anarchy are overwhelmingly complementary in normal practice (rationality is added for its intimate theoretical connections to these categories). This is done using theories, not definitions, of each concept. This important thesis is entirely positive. Therefore, somewhat unu…Read more
  •  119
    Despite receiving high praise from Professors Barry, Narveson, Flew, and Gray (see the first page of the paperback), the review puts the level of Escape from Leviathan (EFL) as “undergraduate” and rates it one star.1 While undergraduates may profit from reading EFL, it is not mainly at their level. The review either applies unusually high standards of philosophical argumentation or is simply philosophically perplexed. .
  •  105
    This replies to Block 2019 (B19), which responds to Lester 2014 (L14). The main issues in the, varyingly sized, sections are as follows. 1 Further explanations of critical rationalism, the theory of liberty, and problems with the non-aggression principle. 2.1 The relationships among law, morality, and libertarianism. 2.2 The objective invasiveness of low-level radiation and that it is therefore a proactive imposition (albeit trivial) if someone inflicts it on non-consenting people. 2.3 The objec…Read more
  •  163
    Libertarianism—and classical liberalism generally—presupposes (or entails) a specific, but implicit, conception of liberty. Imagine two lists of property-rights: one list is all those that are libertarian; the other list is all those that are not. What determines into which list a property-right is assigned? If libertarianism is really about liberty, then the determining factor must be whether the property-right fits what liberty is in a more abstract sense. It greatly clarifies matters to have …Read more
  •  114
    I thank Professor Otteson for his review of Escape from Leviathan (EFL). His exposition of what I wrote is relatively accurate. I shall here do my best to correct any misunderstandings and reply to his welcome criticisms, ignoring our various points of agreement and his generous praise.
  •  105
    Applying critical rationalism, all criticism is to be welcomed. A serious response can help to elucidate matters even when the criticisms are poor, misconceived, and hostile. Thus, we turn to the review.
  •  120
    As someone who wishes Escape from Leviathan (EfL) to succeed, I am grateful for a review with such high praise from a well-known classical liberal. As a critical rationalist who also wishes to learn from his mistakes, I am also grateful for Norman Barry’s criticisms. The only way that I can hope to try to repay these and appreciate their full force is by doing my best to reply to them.
  •  59
    Why learn about libertarianism? Because politics causes or exacerbates the very problems that it purports to solve, or it misperceives voluntary behaviour and free markets as problems. Liberty is always preferable: its maximal practical observance entailing self-ownership, private property, and consensual interactions. And libertarianism will be the ideological framework of the future of humankind.
  •  63
    Why learn about philosophy? Because it is the master subject; more fundamental than all of the others: it critically examines their fundamental assumptions and presuppositions. And without some grasp of philosophy one cannot be fully educated or even intellectually autonomous: one is the meme-marionette of unexamined traditions, fashions, and commonsense assumptions.
  •  182
    1) Introduction. 2) The key libertarian insight into property and orthodox libertarianism’s philosophical confusion. 3) Clearer distinctions for applying to what follows: abstract liberty; practical liberty; moral defences; and critical rationalism. 4) The two dominant (‘Lockean’ and ‘Hobbesian’) conceptions of interpersonal liberty. 5) A general account of libertarianism as a subset of classical liberalism and defended from a narrower view. 6) Two abstract (non-propertarian, non-normative) theo…Read more
  •  454
    To explain the correct libertarian approach to immigration, a thought-experiment posits a minimal-state libertarian UK and then the introduction of several relevant anti-libertarian policies with their increasingly disastrous effects. It is argued that the reverse of these imagined policies, as far as is politically possible, must be the correct way forward. This framing is intended to counter the tendency for many articles to misapply libertarian principles to the current messy situation on the…Read more
  •  468
    1. First there is an outline of the libertarian approach taken here. 2. On the assumption of personhood, it is explained how there need be no overall inflicted harm and no proactive killing with abortion and infanticide. This starts with an attached-adult analogy and transitions to dealing directly with the issues. Various well-known criticisms are answered throughout. 3. There is then a more-abstract explanation of how it is paradoxical to assume a duty to do more than avoid inflicting overall …Read more
  •  589
    Peter Singer’s famous and influential article is criticised in three main ways that can be considered libertarian, although many non-libertarians could also accept them: 1) the relevant moral principle is more plausibly about upholding an implicit contract rather than globalising a moral intuition that had local evolutionary origins; 2) its principle of the immorality of not stopping bad things is paradoxical, as it overlooks the converse aspect that would be the positive morality of not startin…Read more
  •  7
    Private-property anarchy is better than the state in the enhancement of liberty and welfare. Strictly speaking, market exchange is one aspect of private-property anarchy. But I here focus on market-anarchy as that is a main source of confusion and debate. Similarly, pluralism is another aspect of privateproperty anarchy. I focus on pluralism as an example of a currently popular topic where private-property anarchy is misunderstood. ‘Pluralism’ here means ‘(tolerating) different ways of life’. ‘T…Read more
  •  5
    Charles Murray describes himself as a libertarian, most notably in his short book, What it Means to be a Libertarian. He might more accurately have described himself as having libertarian tendencies. My reading of Simple Justice is that the views it espouses are far more traditionalist than libertarian. Neither traditionalist state-retribution nor modernist state-leniency is libertarian. Nor does either provide as just or efficient a response to crime as does libertarian restitution, including r…Read more
  •  32
    Explaining Libertarianism: Some Philosophical Arguments
    The University of Buckingham Press. 2014.
    This book’s four main theses: (1) Interpersonal liberty requires an explicit, pre-propertarian, purely factual, theory. (2) Liberty is—and need only be—morally desirable in systematic practice, not in every logically possible case. In practice, there is no clash between the two main moral contenders: rights and consequences. (3) Nothing can ever justify, support, or ground any theory of liberty or its applications, because it is logically impossible to transcend assumptions. Theories can only be…Read more
  •  167
    Kymlicka on Libertarianism: A Critical Response
    Libertarian Papers 4 (2): 31-52. 2012.
    This essay examines sections relevant to libertarianism in Will Kymlicka’s Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (2nd ed.), making and explaining the following criticisms. Kymlicka’s “preface” misconstrues political philosophy’s progress, purpose, and its relation to libertarianism. In his “introduction”, his “project” mistakes libertarianism as “right-wing”, justice as compromise among “existing theories”, and equality as the “ultimate value.” His “a note on method” in effect takes…Read more
  •  100
    The “free world” was the political rhetoric used during the Cold War in contrast to the “communist” countries. However, the “free world” was manifestly never free: the state considerably interfered with people in their persons and their property. And the “communist” countries were manifestly never communist: there was no common ownership of the means of production with the absence of social classes, money, and the state. It would have been more accurate to call them the “authoritarian world” and…Read more
  •  208
    This is a response to “Libertarianism without Argument”. Various misunderstandings in that text are given replies. Both critical rationalism and how it applies to libertarianism are elucidated and elaborated.
  •  388
    The general philosophical problem with most versions of social libertarianism and how this essay will proceed. The specific problem with liberty explained by a thought-experiment. The abstract (non-propertarian and non-normative) theory of interpersonal liberty-in-itself as ‘the absence of interpersonal proactively-imposed constraints on want-satisfaction’, for short ‘no (proactive) impositions’. The individualistic liberty-maximisation theory solves the problems of clashes, defences, and rectif…Read more
  •  169
    This essay goes through Frederick 2015 (F15) in some detail, responding to the various paraphrases and criticisms therein. It is argued that in each case F15 is mistaken about what Lester 2012 (L12) says, or about what F15 presents as a sound criticism, or both. It is concluded that the philosophical theory of new-paradigm libertarianism that L12 (etc.) comprises has yet to be given adequate critical consideration, and that almost all libertarian texts still fall foul of the three fundamental er…Read more