Sunday, 19 June 2005

Freedom, through thick and thin

The superior freedom of the capitalist system, its superior justice, and its superior productivity are not three superiorities, but one. The justice follows from the freedom, and the productivity follows from the freedom and the justice.
- Henry Hazlitt, 1962

The concept of freedom, in its socially relevant sense, means the condition of individuals being free from aggression by others… It rests on the recognition of every individual’s equal moral nature as a self-determined and self-responsible agent, regardless of admittedly enormous circumstantial difference.
- Tibor Machan, 1998

As some of my blog readers will be aware, I have been engaged in a debate with Richard Chapple from the Philosophy et cetera blog who’s been enjoying bashing what he thinks to be libertarianism. In his view, libertarians advocate ‘thin freedom’ because we advocate only that human beings should be free from the initiation of force; he maintains that we should instead advocate a ‘thicker’ form of ‘freedom’ – namely the forcible appropriation of wealth and the enslavement of other human beings for our own ends. He calls this ‘substantive freedom,’ but perhaps ‘thick’ might be the correct term.

"If you tie me up," says Richard, "that's bad because it stops me from doing the things I want. If untying me wouldn't change any of that, then it wouldn't do me any good. And if I could continue to do all the things I wanted despite being tied up, then it wouldn't really be much of a harm. What matters, in either case, is what opportunities are open to me. Whether I've been "interfered" with is of secondary (and derivative) importance." Not only should we untie Richard, he claims, but we should clothe and feed him as well ... or at least provide him with an income to do so.

Naturally, I view this as sophistic nonsense (ie., bullshit) and said as much in the comments thread.

I’ve already argued against his substantive views here, and then replied at some length here in a piece entitled ‘Why libertarians don’t own their bodies.’ Richard has not however been persuaded.

I posted a reply to the so-called 'problem of initial acquisition' below, and here is a link to my second lengthy sally, 'Freedom, through thick and thin.' The lietmotif is from Ayn Rand's 'Anthem':

I do not surrender my treasures, nor do I share them. The fortune of my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to the winds as alms for the poor of the spirit. I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom.

Read on here.


  1. No one knows WHAT you are talking about baby in the last few posts - take it from me - they have told me.

    Not a criticism mind you- just facts. Think about it if you want to win hearts and minds.

  2. Ah well, isn't that what lots of people do on Sundays: talk about things no-one knows anything about? :-)

    Seriously, I'm not sure that blogs are the place for lengthy philosophical arguments -- which is why I've posted the lengthy stuff elsewhere -- but to my mind bloggers should really be engaging with each other rather than just talking to themselves.

    And we really should be trying to stretch our readers, don't you think?


  3. I know you try to stretch your readers - and that is why I am your part-time disciple. I hate debating things on blogs and such, so I prefer to use the medium to hone my invective.

  4. Keep honing. It will be looked at favourably when your appication for full-time discipleship is considered by the board. :-)

  5. I will paraphrase Acidman here, beacuse he is a grumpy old bastard,but one of the A list bloggers who sends one's sitemeter spinning...

    I have one very simple question to ask: WHAT THE FUCK WAS ANY OF THAT SHIT doing in my comments on a post about freedom. I can tell you right now--- not a god-damn thing, and it surely did not entertain any readers to see that little tete-a-tete between two people who obviously have a great sex life awaiting them because they are so much alike.

    So there Peter.

  6. PC,

    I've no idea what you're talking about.

    You're latest post jumbles lots of stuff together and mentions a dozen argument without fleshing out any of them.

    Look, I've read philosophical bullshit. I even made it through Heidegger (trust me, while there is interesting stuff in there, it's not worth the effort). But this just makes no sense.


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