FACTOID # 26: Delaware is the latchkey kid capital of America, with 71.8% of households having both parents in the labor force.
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Criticism of libertarianism
? This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims.
Please help Wikipedia by adding references. See the talk page for details.

Part of a series on
Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... This article does not adequately cite its references. ... Image File history File links Circle-question. ... This article does not adequately cite its references. ...

Schools of thought

Green libertarianism
Progressive libertarianism
Agorism is an anarchist political philosophy founded by Samuel Edward Konkin III and characterized by proponents as left-libertarian. ... Anarcho-capitalism refers to an anti-statist philosophy that embraces capitalism as one of its foundational principles. ... Geolibertarianism (also geoanarchism) is a liberal political philosophy that holds along with other forms of libertarian individualism that each individual has an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor, as opposed to this product being owned collectively by society or the community. ... Green-Libertarian describes a political philosophy that was established in the United States. ... Libertarianism is a political philosophy that holds that individuals should be allowed complete freedom of action as long as they do not infringe on the freedom of others. ... Left-libertarianism is a term that has been adopted by several different movements and theorists. ... In civics, minarchism, sometimes called minimal statism or small government, is the view that the size, role and influence of government in a free society should be minimal — only large enough to protect the liberty and property of each individual. ... Neolibertarianism is a political philosophy combining elements of libertarian and conservative thought that embraces incrementalism and pragmatism domestically, and a generally interventionist foreign policy based on self-interest, national defense and the expansion of freedom. ... Paleolibertarianism is a school of thought within American libertarianism founded by Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard, and closely associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. ... Progressive Libertarianism is a political or philosophy whose adherents promote social change through voluntarism rather than government laws and regulation. ...


Austrian School
Chicago School
Classical liberalism
Individualist anarchism
The Austrian School, also known as the Vienna School or the Psychological School, is a school of economic thought that advocates adherence to strict methodological individualism. ... The Chicago School of Economics is a school of thought in economics; it refers to the style of economics practiced at and disseminated from the University of Chicago after 1946. ... Classical liberalism (also known as traditional liberalism[1] and laissez-faire liberalism[2]) is a doctrine stressing the importance of human rationality, individual property rights, natural rights, the protection of civil liberties, constitutional limitations of government, free markets, and individual freedom from restraint as exemplified in the writings of Adam... Individualist Anarchism is an anarchist philosophical tradition that has a strong emphasis on sovereignty of the individual[1] and is generally opposed to collectivism[2]. The tradition appears most often in the United States, most notably in regard to its advocacy of private property. ...


Civil liberties
Free markets
Free trade
Private property
Civil liberties is the name given to freedoms that protect the individual from government. ... A free market is an idealized market, where all economic decisions and actions by individuals regarding transfer of money, goods, and services are voluntary, and are therefore devoid of coercion and theft (some definitions of coercion are inclusive of theft). Colloquially and loosely, a free market economy is an economy... Free trade is an economic concept referring to the selling of products between countries without tariffs or other trade barriers. ... Laissez-faire is short for laissez faire, laissez passer, a French phrase meaning to let things alone, let them pass. First used by the eighteenth century Physiocrats as an injunction against government interference with trade, it is now used as a synonym for strict free market economics. ... Liberty is generally considered a concept of political philosophy and identifies the condition in which an individual has immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority. ... Methodological individualism is a philosophical orientation toward explaining broad society-wide developments as the accumulation of decisions by individuals. ... The non-aggression principle (also called the non-aggression axiom, anticoercion principle, or zero aggression principle) is a deontological ethical stance associated with the libertarian movement. ... This page deals with property as ownership rights. ... Self-ownership or sovereignty of the individual or individual sovereignty is the condition where an individual has the exclusive moral right to control his or her own body and life. ...


Economic views
Libertarian theorists
Theories of law
Views of rights
Criticism of libertarianism
Libertarian Republican
Economic libertarianism is the doctrine that government should not engage in economic interventionism, but only prohibit force and fraud. ... This is a list of notable Libertarian theorists and authors. ... Modern libertarians see themselves as having revived the original doctrine of liberalism, and often call themselves libertarians and classical liberals interchangeably. ... The libertarian movement consists of the various individuals and institutions who have historically advanced the ideas and causes of libertarianism. ... Many countries and subnational political entities have libertarian political parties. ... Libertarian theories of law build on libertarianism or classical liberalism. ... Libertarians and Objectivists limit what they define as rights to variations on the right to be left alone, and argue that other rights such as the right to a good education or the right to have free access to water are not legitimate rights and do not deserve the same... A libertarian Republican is a person who subscribes to libertarian philosophy while typically voting for and being involved with the United States Republican Party. ...

Portal:Politics Politics Portal
This box:  v  d  e 

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that supports largely unrestricted property rights and opposes most government interventions (such as taxation, prosecution of victimless crimes and regulations on businesses beyond the minimum required to prevent fraud or property damage) as coercive, even if a democratic majority supports it. As a result, many adherents to other ideologies oppose either the libertarian implementation of their ideals or the ideals themselves. This article summarizes criticism from several viewpoints. Image File history File links Portal. ... This article does not adequately cite its references. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political philosophy is the study of fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why (or even if) they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what... This page deals with property as ownership rights. ... Victimless crime has the following applications: A victimless crime is one in which the victim is the accused. ... Coercion is the practice of compelling a person to involuntarily behave in a certain way (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation or some other form of pressure or force. ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      For other uses, see Democracy (disambiguation). ...

It must be noted that there are broadly two types of libertarians: consequentialists and rights theorists.[1] Rights theorists have a moral opposition to all "initiation of force and fraud," taken against a person who has not initiated physical force, threat, or fraud (many of these are individualist anarchists). Consequentialist libertarians, instead of having moral prohibitions against initiation of force, accept those actions which they believe result in the maximum liberty even if it requires some initiation of force. Consequentialism is the belief that what ultimately matters in evaluating actions or policies of action are the consequences that result from choosing one action or policy rather than the alternative. ... In politics, individualist anarchism is a variety of anarchism that emphasises the importance of the individual. ...

Milton Friedman defined consequentialist libertarianism as a philosophy that advocates "the least intrusive government consistent with the maximum freedom for each individual as long as he does not interfere with individuals pursuing their own freedom."[2] So, where rights-theorist libertarians oppose all intrusion by government, if they support the existence of a state at all, consequentialist libertarians accept limited government that engages in some minimal initiatory force because they believe it to be necessary to maximize liberty. They support the levying of a limited amount of involuntary taxes to provide some public goods such as defense, law, and roads, as well as some minimal positive regulation (these are also sometimes referred to as classical liberals). Therefore a criticism of libertarianism may not apply to both forms, and a criticism of one form may not apply to the other form. Milton Friedman (July 31, 1912 – November 16, 2006) was an American Nobel Laureate economist and public intellectual. ... Classical liberalism is a political and economic philosophy, originally founded on the Enlightenment tradition - established by thinkers such as Adam Smith -, as well as on the tradition of a Nordic school of liberalism even slightly before that, set in motion by a Finnish parlamentarian Anders Chydenius. ...


General criticism

By the Right-wing

Rightists often argue that government is needed to maintain social order and morality. They may argue that excessive personal freedoms encourage dangerous and irresponsible behaviour. Some of the most commonly debated issues here are sexual norms, the drug war, and public education. Libertarians feel that the state has no business being involved in what they see as victimless crimes, but conservatives view some of these same issues as threats to society. Some, such as the conservative Jonah Goldberg of National Review consider libertarianism "a form of arrogant nihilism" that is both overly tolerant of nontraditional lifestyles (like drug addiction) and intolerant towards other political views. In the same article, he writes "You don't turn children into responsible adults by giving them absolute freedom. You foster good character by limiting freedom, and by channeling energies into the most productive avenues. That's what all good schools, good families, and good societies do. The Boy Scouts don't throw a pocketknife to a kid and say, 'Knock yourself out, kid. I'll be back in a couple hours.' The cultural libertarians want to do precisely that... pluralism [should not be]... a suicide pact."[1] In politics, right-wing, the political right, or simply the right, are terms which refer, with no particular precision, to the segment of the political spectrum in opposition to left-wing politics. ... A sexual norm can refer to a personal or a social norm. ... The prohibition of drugs through legislation or religious law is a common means of controlling the perceived negative consequences of recreational drug use at a society- or world-wide level. ... // Public education is education mandated for the children of the general public by the government, whether national, regional, or local, provided by an institution of civil government, and paid for, in whole or in part, by taxes. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with public order crime. ... Jonah Jacob Goldberg (born March 21, 1969), is an American conservative commentator. ... National Review (NR) is a biweekly magazine of political opinion, founded by author William F. Buckley, Jr. ... This article is about the philosophical position. ... Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, so that they may play constructive roles in society. ... A pocket knife is a type of folding knife with a blade that fits inside the handle. ... Pluralism is used, often in different ways, across a wide range of topics: In science, the concept often describes the view that several methods, theories or points of view are legitimate or plausible, see Scientific pluralism. ... The Constitution is not a suicide pact is a political phrase that was coined by Abraham Lincoln in responce to charges that he was violating the constitution by suspending habeus corpus, and coppied by Justice Robert H. Jackson in his dissenting opinion in Terminiello v. ...

Goldberg has also had repeated spats with Lew Rockwell and his followers (whom he calls "angry libertarians") over what they see as conservatism's concessions to socialism[2] and its support for the war in Iraq. Goldberg argues that modern conservatism incorporates the best features of libertarianism without its flaws through what he calls fusionism: Lew Rockwell Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. ... Socialism refers to a broad array of ideologies and movements which aim to improve society through collective and egalitarian action; and to a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community. ... The subject of this article is the 2003 invasion of Iraq. ...

Hayek says that in the United States you can 'still' be a defender of liberty by defending long-standing institutions that were designed to preserve freedom. In other words, 'conservatives' in America are — or can be — classical liberals... traditionalist conservatives and free-market libertarians agree on about 85% of all public-policy issues... When [libertarians] try to break ranks entirely the most common result is that they throw a party to which nobody shows up.[3]

By the Left-wing

Many criticisms of libertarianism question the definition of "freedom" upheld by libertarians. For example, liberals and socialists sometimes argue that the economic practices defended by libertarians result in privileges for a wealthy elite, and that even people that have not been coerced (according to the libertarian definition) may not be free because they lack the power or wealth to act as they choose.[citation needed]

Some, such as John Rawls and Ernest Partridge, argue that implied social contracts justify government actions that harm some individuals so long as they are beneficial overall. They may further argue that rights and markets can only function among "a well-knit community of citizens... with an active understanding that every citizen, without exception and whatever his accomplishment, bears an enormous burden of moral debt to both predecessors and contemporaries". If these prerequisites for a libertarian society depend on paying this debt, these critics argue, the libertarian form of government will either fail or be expanded beyond recognition.[4] Further, Rawls argued that rational people without knowledge of their current status (behind what he calls a veil of ignorance) would want society to provide a safety net for the least advantaged because of the possibility that they would need it themselves. An important distinction made by Rawls is between freedom itself and the value of freedom, and libertarians wrongly seek to maximize freedom without consideration of the value of the resulting freedoms. This criticism is based on the notion of the incommensurability of values, where liberty is but one good that must compete with others, rather than all goods being reducible to one simple measure of utility. Libertarians simplistically consider liberty to trump all other goods, without consideration of the commensurability of different goods. Significantly, although Rawls argues for inviolable rights, these are restricted to situations where basic prosperity has been established, rather than being ideological maxims in the manner of libertarians' view of liberty.[citation needed] John Rawls (February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) was an American philosopher, a professor of political philosophy at Harvard University and author of A Theory of Justice (1971), Political Liberalism, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, and The Law of Peoples. ... Ernest Partridge (10 August 1895 – 20 April 1974) was a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. ... John Lockes writings on the Social Contract were particularly influential among the American Founding Fathers. ... The veil of ignorance is a concept introduced by John Rawls in A Theory of Justice. ... The social safety net is a term used to describe a collection of services provided by the state (such as welfare, unemployment insurance, universal healthcare, homeless shelters, and perhaps various subsidized services such as transit), which prevent any individual from falling into poverty beyond a certain level. ...

Libertarians like Robert Nozick argue the desires of hypothetical individuals cannot override an individual's moral right to his or her life and its products (property), and argue that a "well ordered society" can be maintained without government coercion. It should be noted that minarchists consider such a society to require more government than anarcho-capitalists do.[citation needed] Robert Nozick (November 16, 1938 – January 23, 2002) was an American philosopher and Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard University. ...

Libertarians also argue that each individual is free to give as much of their own personal resources to charity, and have no right to force others to do the same.

Other critics argue that a democracy can legitimately override the rights of its own constituents, while libertarians like Hayek and Friedman respond that independent decisions of noncoerced buyers and sellers represent the "will of the people" more effectively than ballots do.

By the Far left

Some critiques center on the notion of property (on which much of libertarian theory rests) and argue that many forms of property are illegitimate. The argument that property itself is theft, promoted by many anarchists, would undermine almost all of capitalist libertarian theory if successfully argued [citation needed]. Noam Chomsky, for one, argues that property rights often function as authoritarian restrictions on others' actions. Others argue that current property owners obtained their property unfairly, justifying its redistribution. This is especially true in the United States where, they argue, land was initially stolen from the Native Americans who held it previously. Property is theft! (French: La propriété, cest le vol!) is a slogan coined by the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in his book What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right of Government. ... Avram Noam Chomsky (Hebrew :אברם נועם חומסקי Yiddish: אברם נועם כאמסקי) (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. ... A Sioux in traditional dress including war bonnet, circa 1908. ...

Classical Marxists and many modern socialists subscribe to the Lockean notion that production implies ownership, but argue that modern production makes it impossible to divide ownership of most goods amongst the individual laborers involved, for too many people participate in the complex process of extracting raw materials and in the manufacture of the end product (see labor theory of value). As such, they believe that property must be held in common for all, in trust, as it were, by the state. Moreover, they contend that the capitalist himself adds nothing to the equation in the way of labor, that which creates ownership, and that the profit or surplus value is therefore essentially unearned. Libertarians counter that this analysis ignores the complex labor of arranging for and managing production, the various investment risks, and the lost opportunity costs involved in deferring consumption until sufficient capital can be amassed to build a factory or hire workers and then spending it on these factors of production. Marxism is both the theory and the political practice (that is, the praxis) derived from the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. ... material is the substance or matter from which something is or can be made, or also items needed for doing or creating something. ... The labor theory of value (LTV) is a theory in classical economics concerning the value of an exchangeable good or service. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Surplus value, according to Marxism, is unpaid labour that is extracted from the worker by the capitalist, and serves as the basis for capitalist accumulation. ... Invest redirects here. ... Opportunity cost is a term used in economics, to mean the cost of something in terms of an opportunity foregone (and the benefits that could be received from that opportunity), or the most valuable foregone alternative. ... In economics, factors of production are resources used in the production of goods and services. ...

Libertarians contend that an agreement between laborers and employers to perform work is simply a contractual agreement of exchanging the use of one form of property (labor) for another (wages), and there is no particular need to tie production to ownership. Critics sometimes respond that neglecting to tie production to ownership often results in situations in which the producers (workers) do not receive the full benefit of their own labor, or that impoverished laborers cannot "voluntarily" make agreements with someone because the capitalist's control of the means of production is coercive. This last argument depends on the criticism of property outlined above. The perceived situation of workers not receiving "the full benefit of their own labor", libertarians reply, depends on use of Marx's Labor Theory of Value, which is almost entirely discredited in the discipline of economics. Libertarians also counter that in modern market economies laborers may participate in ownership by purchasing stock, which is relatively cheap, and often provided by the company in the form of a 401K account. A wage is the amount of money paid for some specified quantity of labour. ... Means of production (abbreviated MoP; German: Produktionsmittel), also called means of labour are the materials, tools and other instruments used by workers to make products. ... The labor theory of value (LTV) is a theory in classical economics concerning the value of an exchangeable good or service. ... The 401(k) plan is a type of retirement plan available in the United States. ...

By Objectivists

See also: Libertarianism and Objectivism

While Ayn Rand's Objectivism philosophy advocates a minimal state based on rights theory, she considered it distinct from libertarianism and explicitly rejected the term. Other Objectivists have a more positive attitude, either seeing Objectivism as a form of libertarianism or at least being willing to cooperate with libertarians. Many individuals found their support of libertarianism upon ideological elements derived from the philosophy of novelist Ayn Rand, which she called Objectivism. ... Ayn Rand (IPA: , February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982), born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum (Russian: ), was a Russian-born American novelist and philosopher,[1] best known for developing Objectivism and for writing the novels We the Living, The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and the novella Anthem. ... Objectivism is a philosophy [1][2] developed by Ayn Rand that encompasses positions on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics[3]. Objectivism holds that there is a mind-independent reality; that individuals are in contact with this reality through sensory perception; that humans gain objective knowledge from perception by measurement... Many individuals found their support of libertarianism upon ideological elements derived from the philosophy of novelist Ayn Rand, which she called Objectivism. ...

Objectivists have criticized libertarians for suggesting that a just society is based on a dogmatic (intrinsic) belief in liberty or a pragmatic (subjective) belief that uses the practical outcome of capitalism. Objectivists argue that abstract ideas don't exist in a vacuum, and thus the concept of liberty needs to be validated by a process of reason.

Specific criticism


Critics of the economic system favored by libertarians, laissez-faire capitalism, argue that market failures justify government intervention in the economy, that nonintervention leads to monopolies and stifled innovation, or that unregulated markets are economically unstable. They argue that advances in economics since Adam Smith show that people's actions are not always rational, that markets do not always produce the most efficient outcome, and that redistribution of wealth can improve economic health. Libertarians would be likely to respond that market failures, monopolies and uninnovation are themselves caused by government intervention in most or all cases. Capitalism generally refers to an economic system in which the means of production are all or mostly privately[1][2] owned and operated for profit, and in which investments, distribution, income, production and pricing of goods and services are determined through the operation of a free market. ... Market failure is a term used by economists to describe the condition where the allocation of goods and services by a market is not efficient. ... A monopoly (from the Greek language monos, one + polein, to sell) is defined as a persistent market situation where there is only one provider of a product or service, in other words a firm that has no competitors in its industry. ... Face-to-face trading interactions on the New York Stock Exchange trading floor. ... Adam Smith FRSE (baptised June 5, 1723 O.S. / June 16 N.S. – July 17, 1790) was a Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneering political economist. ...

Other economic criticism concerns the transition to a libertarian society. They may argue, for example, that privatizing Social Security would cause a fiscal crisis in the short term and damage individuals' economic stability in the long term.[5] Libertarians reply that this is a straw man, since privatization of Social Security need not happen in a sudden and destabilizing way. Social Security in the United States is a social insurance program funded through dedicated payroll taxes called FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act). ... A straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponents position. ...

Another criticism is of the handling of Latin American economies by libertarian economists: Latin America consists of the countries of South America and some of North America (including Central America and some the islands of the Caribbean) whose inhabitants mostly speak Romance languages, although Native American languages are also spoken. ...

Between 1973 and 1989, a government team of economists trained at the University of Chicago dismantled or decentralized the Chilean state as far as was humanly possible. Their program included privatizing welfare and social programs, deregulating the market, liberalizing trade, rolling back trade unions, and rewriting its constitution and laws... Chile's economy became more unstable than any other in Latin America... growth during this 16-year period was one of the slowest of any Latin American country. Worse, income inequality grew severe. The majority of workers actually earned less in 1989 than in 1973 (after adjusting for inflation), while the incomes of the rich skyrocketed. In the absence of market regulations, Chile also became one of the most polluted countries in Latin America. And Chile's lack of democracy was only possible by suppressing political opposition and labor unions under a reign of terror and widespread human rights abuses.[6]

Libertarians generally disagree with this assessment, claiming that the problems Chile's economy faced were due to the government's new welfare-state style tax laws and the Chicago economic team's decision to fix the peso-dollar exchange rate instead of allowing it to fluctuate naturally. Additionally, the economic downturn was not confined to Chile, as a widespread recession also struck several other Latin American countries. Even during this time period, Chile's GDP grew significantly. Economist Arnold C. Harberger said in an interview with Jeffery Sachs that "Chile led the continent in climbing out of this recession. It was the only debt-crisis country that got back to the pre-crisis levels of GDP before the end of the decade of the '80s."[7] Economist Norman Van Cott says: "Following Chile’s adoption of Chicago-style free-market reforms, an economic miracle soon engulfed Chile. By 1995, per capita real income was more than two-and-a-half times its 1973 level. Inflation fell from 500 (!) percent per year in 1973 to 8 percent in 1995." Most of these improvements, however happened during the period from 1989 to 1995, after the end of the Pinochet Dictatorship that was supported by the Chicago Economic Team. Growth rates since the return to Democracy have doubled over what they were during the dictatorship, including those in the current socialist administration. [8] Year 1989 (MCMLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays 1989 Gregorian calendar). ... The Chicago Boys (c. ... The University of Chicago is a private university located principally in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. ... A union (labor union in American English; trade union, sometimes trades union, in British English; either labour union or trade union in Canadian English) is a legal entity consisting of employees or workers having a common interest, such as all the assembly workers for one employer, or all the workers...

Still, libertarianism's critics argue that the results in Chile and elsewhere show that libertarian economic ideas threaten freedom, democracy, human rights, and economic growth. However, Milton Friedman says the main reason he advocated free market reforms in Chile was to "undermine political centralization and political control." He says that the "Chilean economy did very well, but more important, in the end the central government, the military junta, was replaced by a democratic society. So the really important thing about the Chilean business is that free markets did work their way in bringing about a free society." Critics of this statement point out that Friedman supported the government that ended Democracy in Chile, and that the return to Democracy had more to do with the failure of Pinochet's Libertarian economic policies than with their supposed success. p[7]

Lastly, free trade has many critics, who argue that trade barriers are necessary for economic growth in some (or all) situations. Many economists, even those who are more broadly opposed to libertarianism, tend to be in favor of international free trade and reject this argument. Free trade is an economic concept referring to the selling of products between countries without tariffs or other trade barriers. ... A trade barrier is general term that describes any government policy or regulation that restricts international trade, the barriers can take many forms, including: Import duties Import licenses Export licenses Quotas Tariffs Subsidies Non-tariff barriers to trade Most trade barriers work on the same principle: the imposition of some...

Government decentralization or shrinkage

Some argue[weasel words] that libertarian proposals to decrease the size or centralization of government would have the opposite of their intended effect. John Donahue argues in American Prospect that when power is shifted to local authorities, parochial local interests predominate at the expense of the whole, leading to inefficiency, corruption, and loss of freedom - as when limits on federal power were used to defend segregation. He claims with regard to proposals for federal devolution that, "Collective value is squandered in the name of a constricted definition of gain. States win advantages that seem worthwhile only because other states bear much of the costs. America's most urgent public challenges... involve the stewardship of common interests. The fragmentation of authority makes success less likely."[9] The American Prospect is a monthly magazine which focuses on US politics and public policy. ...

Libertarians generally contend that decentralization leads to competing political systems, driving up excellence in government generally -- or at least making it easier for individuals to choose what form of government to live under.

Deontological ethical theories

Many people criticize libertarian arguments that rely on the idea of natural law, or other deontological ethical views, for what they consider to be questionable premises (especially about human nature) and a heavy reliance on deductive reasoning. If a few basic premises of a libertarian theory built in this way could be proved false, the whole system would collapse. Natural law or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis) is an ethical theory that posits the existence of a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore has validity everywhere. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Human nature (disambiguation). ... Deductive reasoning is the kind of reasoning where the conclusion is necessitated by previously known premises. ...

Jeffrey Friedman, editor of Critical Review, argues that libertarians often rely on the unproven assumption that economic growth and affluence automatically result in happiness, and shift the burden of proof to their opponents without justification, when in fact "it is the libertarian who is committed to the grand claim that, for some reason, intervention must always be avoided." Friedman also argues that natural law libertarianism's justification for the primacy of property is incoherent: "if (as Boaz maintains) the liberty of a human being to own another should be trumped by equal human rights (62), the liberty to own large amounts of property [at the expense of others] should... also be trumped by equal human rights. This alone would seem definitively to lay to rest the philosophical case for libertarianism... The very idea of ownership contains the relativistic seeds of arbitrary authority: the arbitrary authority of the individual's 'right to do wrong.'"[10] World GDP/capita changed very little for most of human history before the industrial revolution. ... Wealth is an abundance of items of economic value, or the state of controlling or possessing such items, and encompasses money, real estate and personal property. ... “Happy” redirects here. ... In the common law, burden of proof is the obligation to prove allegations which are presented in a legal action. ... David Boaz is the executive vice president of the influential libertarian U.S think tank the Cato Institute. ...

To this, Libertarians reply that possession of property by one individual rarely causes any "expense" to other individuals.

Others think that libertarianism suffers from another faulty premise, that being: That people will ultimately act in their best interests. Critics argue that people often do things that are not in their own interests, sometimes even if they know this, as in the case of drug addiction. However, this case also shows that identifying a person's "best interest" is often difficult; Gene Haymen argues that only rational choice theory can explain all observed features of drug addiction, and thus that a drug user's best interest in the relevant sense is immediate gratification, rather than long term health.[11] This difficulty allows a defense of libertarianism against the specific charge, but may pose a problem of its own for the general theory. Additionally, the libertarian opposition to any sort of standard, state run educational system, and support instead for private education and home schooling, with no enforced standards per quality, makes critics question how many citizens would know what is in their best interests in a libertarian society. Paul Kienitz writes, "As increasing technology enables ever greater amplification of abilities, the separation between those who start out with abundant resources and those who don't, in terms of what they can then get out of the market, is likely to widen further... The least we can do is to not egregiously widen the gap ahead of time if we can help it. This is why I oppose such measures as fully privatizing education."[12] Drug addiction, or dependency is the compulsive use of drugs, to the point where the user has no effective choice but to continue use. ... Rational choice theory assumes human behavior is guided by instrumental reason. ...

Libertarians reply that without beginning from an assumption of humans as rational actors, there is no basis for the development of any coherent theory of political organization or rights. Libertarians generally agree that what makes man a political animal, rather than a wild one, is our capacity to act rationally.


Some argue that libertarianism does not take into account differing cultural views on the idea of ownership. Historically, many civilizations outside of Europe have believed that land can not be owned. Therefore, libertarianism can be criticized as depending on Eurocentric racial and cultural biases, and not applicable to all humanity.[citation needed] Libertarians counter that these civilizations had relatively low populations compared to the numbers that are sustained with little to no starvation in modern political systems that are based on private property rights.[citation needed] The word culture, from the Latin colo, -ere, with its root meaning to cultivate, generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... Eurocentrism is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing emphasis on European (and, generally, Western) concerns, culture and values at the expense of those of other cultures. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Similarly, the libertarian view of property rights as natural may be criticized by arguing that it depends on a biased take on their origin (or a biased neglect to even consider it). Native Americans could say that much, if not all, of the land in the Americas by right belongs to them.[citation needed] Libertarians argue that the Native Americans that owned the land before certainly could get the land back by use of the courts but that this is unlikely because those people would be several hundred years old by now. An independent origin and development of writing is counted among the many achievements and innovations of pre-Columbian American cultures. ... World map showing the Americas The Americas are the lands of the Western hemisphere historically considered to consist of the continents of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions. ...

Nozick has long been criticised for taking for granted the Western view of who has rights and what they are. Most libertarians seem to have followed this stance. To grant rights to women and to the lower-classes is not accepted in all societies, yet libertarians rarely justify these views. Although Nozick believed that eating meat was immoral, he dismissed the inclusion of animal rights in politics out of hand, and most libertarians have followed this Western viewpoint without argument.[citation needed] Robert Nozick (November 16, 1938 – January 23, 2002) was an American philosopher and Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard University. ... For the album by Moby, see Animal Rights (album). ...

Large Scale Undertakings

Some argue that big government is simply the only way to accomplish certain large-scale projects, such as the space program. Some endeavors of mankind are so complex that they require the (possibly coerced or forced) participation and funding of millions of people. In fact, the first forays into space by mankind were made by a communist nation. The US was only able to compete with these efforts by the formation of a new publicly funded agency, NASA. This was, in some people's eyes, a concession to communism by capitalism, as the only way for a capitalist nation to compete with communist space efforts was to imitate communism to a certain extent. The private sector was unable to compete with the USSR's government space program. This is made evident by the fact that there has never been a successful privately-funded moon landing. Libertarians might respond that there is no economic need to go to the moon, and if there were, the private sector would easily rise to this challenge. Critics of libertarians respond to these arguments by saying that by the time market forces necessitate space exploration, it may be too late. The earth may be too prohibitively drained of resources by that time to put forth a proper space exploration effort.


Environmentalist critics like Jeffrey Friedman argue that libertarians have no method of dealing with collective problems like environmental destruction: "The environment is the libertarian Waterloo: it reveals the flaws of the doctrine in a way that seems to ensure that no 'answer' is forthcoming."[13] A common way of putting the most basic criticism refers to the tragedy of the commons, in which commonly held property is overused or abused by each user to the long-term detriment of all. A libertarian society, it is argued, cannot prevent natural resources from being destroyed, or the environment from being polluted, because of its rejection of collective regulation and control; this is a case where the free market lauded by libertarians is the root of the problem. For the psychology topic, see Environmental psychology. ... The Tragedy of the Commons is a type of social trap, often economic, that involves a conflict over resources between individual interests and the common good. ... It has been suggested that Pollutant be merged into this article or section. ...

The usual libertarian response is to argue that, rather than creating bureaucratic environmental regulations, society should find ways of allocating property rights so that the free market can solve environmental problems, for example by privatizing natural resources, allowing civil suits against polluters, or selling pollution permits; Milton Friedman, for example, has proposed a system for doing the last. Libertarians argue that this will be more efficient, as well as better respecting human liberty. Critics, however, find libertarian attempts to protect the environment through property rights lacking. They see natural resources (like whales or the atmosphere) as too hard to privatize and legal responsibility for damage (from pollution or wild animals) as too hard to trace.[14] Many libertarians, however, agree with this assessment and view some forms of environmental protection as public goods, falling under the control of political systems. Milton Friedman (July 31, 1912 – November 16, 2006) was an American Nobel Laureate economist and public intellectual. ... In economics, a public good is one that cannot or will not be produced for individual profit, since it is difficult to get people to pay for its large beneficial externalities. ...

Critics also point to a phenomenon whereby short-term profits can give an incentive for some to buy up resources, deplete them quickly, and move on, regardless of long-term values, describing this as an example of a general problem with the time period taken into consideration by participants making decisions in an unregulated free market. This shortsightedness, it is argued, is especially problematic in an environmental context, where the ramifications of actions can take centuries to develop, dooming efforts to deal with problems by privatization.[15] Free market economists discount such reasoning by arguing that most companies look to the long term rather than short term.

Some critics, such as Arne Næss and Val Plumwood, claim a deeper philosophical problem, locating the root cause of humanity's destruction of the environment in its failure to give nature ethical value in itself, and arguing that until it does so environmental problems will only worsen, regardless of policy. Most libertarian ethical positions, based in the idea of the rational subject as uniquely valuable, are incompatible with alternative ecological ethics.[16] Arne Dekke Eide Næss (born January 27, 1912) is widely regarded as the foremost Norwegian philosopher of the 20th century[1], and is the founder of deep ecology. ... Val Plumwood (born 1939), formerly Val Routley, is an Australian ecofeminist intellectual and activist, who has been prominent in the development of radical ecosophy since the early 1970s. ... Ecosophy, also ecophilosophy, is a neologism made by contracting the phrase ecological philosophy. ... Anthropocentrism (Greek άνθρωπος, anthropos, human, κέντρον, kentron, center), or the human-centered principle, refers to the idea that humanity must always remain the central concern for humans. ...

Some have tried to reconcile libertarianism and these various concerns for its effect on the environment into a relatively recent political philosophy called green libertarianism. Green-Libertarian describes a political philosophy that was established in the United States. ...

Ideological culture

The neutrality of this section is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

Along with criticism of their arguments, libertarians have also been criticized in more general terms, for their style of argument and perceived motivations. Libertarianism is seen as a utopian philosophy by some of its critics, who have argued that because of their unwillingness to compromise or adopt pragmatic solutions, libertarians have little relevance to the current political situation. The following example is from National Review's Jonah Goldberg: Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... Left panel (The Earthly Paradise, Garden of Eden), from Hieronymus Boschs The Garden of Earthly Delights. ... Jonah Jacob Goldberg (born March 21, 1969), is an American conservative commentator. ...

Ask a libertarian (no, not all libertarians...) what the Department of Education should do, and he will say 'Well, the Department of Education shouldn't exist.' Now of course he's right... But it does. I've seen it. It's practically brimming with bureaucrats who aren't going away and they're awaiting orders from somebody to do something... I always compared libertarians to the Celtic warrior-tribes often employed by British kings. They are incredibly useful as allies in battle, but you wouldn't want them to actually run things.[17]

Some criticize the motives of libertarians, saying that they only support libertarian ideas because they serve as a means of justifying and maintaining what these critics perceive to be their position near the top of existing social hierarchies. Libertarianism has been characterized as an ideology for the spoiled or rich, who seek to justify their own greed or selfishness or who seek a means of thinking themselves inherently superior, rather than simply privileged. Brook Shelby Biggs writes in Wired, "The ironic thing is that many of today's loudest libertarians were once... stuffing daisies into the barrels of loaded guns... Funny how once they are financially secure, suddenly world peace and economic justice seem less important, crazy ideological college hijinks. Defending one's own wealth is so time-consuming!"[18] The Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building[1]) , ED headquarters in Washington, DC A construction project to repair and update the building facade at the Department of Education Headquarters building in 2002 resulted in the installation of structures at all of the entrances to protect employees and visitors from... A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy, usually within an institution of the government. ... This article is about the European people. ... The British monarch or Sovereign is the monarch and head of state of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories, and is the source of all executive, judicial and (as the Queen-in-Parliament) legislative power. ...

Alternatively, libertarians are criticized for dogmatism. In a parody of a libertarian pamphlet, Mike Huben writes "Parrot these arguments, and you too will be a singular, creative, reasoning individualist!" One common characterization is that libertarians immediately resort to calling their opponents "communist" for any disagreement.[19] Even Milton Friedman has joked about an incident in which Ludwig von Mises stormed out of a room full of libertarian economists, yelling, "You're all a bunch of socialists!" This article is on dogma in religion. ... This article is about communism as a form of society and as a political movement. ... Milton Friedman (July 31, 1912 – November 16, 2006) was an American Nobel Laureate economist and public intellectual. ... Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (September 29, 1881 – October 10, 1973) (IPA: ) was a notable economist and a major influence on the modern libertarian movement. ...

Debates on pure logic aside, even prominent libertarians argue that the ideology's culture can be a liability. For example, Hernando de Soto, a prominent free-market economist who works to encourage the growth of capitalism in the Third World, warned in an interview: Logic (from Classical Greek λόγος logos; meaning word, thought, idea, argument, account, reason, or principle) is the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. ... Hernando de Soto (born 1941 in Arequipa) is a Peruvian economist known for his work on the informal economy. ...

One of the problems that you see mainly in Latin America, which is the area I'm most familiar with, is that people who have created special legal niches of privilege among themselves, and who have no way of justifying the privileges that they have created for themselves, have a tendency of quoting a lot of Friedman and Hayek and all sorts of libertarian writers, to justify their privileges.
So if you are about to open a libertarian club, or NGO, or a think tank in Latin America, and all the guys that sign up have got pinstripe suits and nice silk ties, you'd better be careful. You'd better start suspecting that something's wrong.[20]


  1. ^ Barry, Norman P. Review Article:The New Liberalism. B.J. Pol. S. 13, p. 93
  2. ^ Take It To The Limit: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism. Transcript from an interview


  1. ^  Goldberg, Jonah. Freedom Kills. National Review Online, December 12, 2001.[21]
  2. ^  Callahan, Gene. Winning the Neocon Way, Lew Rockwell's webpage, February 6, 2001[22]
  3. ^  Goldberg, Jonah. Libertarians Under My Skin. National Review Online, March 2, 2001.[23]
  4. ^  Partridge, Ernest. "With Liberty and Justice for Some." Environmental Philosophy edited by Michael Zimmerman, Baird Callicott, Karen Warren, Irene Klaver, and John Clark, 2004.[24]
  5. ^  Chait, Jonathan. Blocking Move, The New Republic, March 21, 2005 [25]
  6. ^  Goldberg, Jonah. Libertarians, in Theory. National Review Online, August 6, 1999.[26]
  7. ^  Sachs, Jeffery, Interview with various economists
  8. ^  Friedman, Jeffrey, "Politics or Scholarship?", Critical Review, Vol. 6, No. 2-3, 1993. Pp 429-45.
  9. ^  Friedman, Jeffrey. What's Wrong With Libertarianism, Critical Review Vol. 11, No. 3. Summer 1997[27] (large PDF file)
  10. ^  Kangas, Steve. Chile: the Laboratory Test. Liberalism Resurgent, [28]
  11. ^  Van Cott, Martin. Direct from Chile, Mises.org, March 25, 2002 [29]
  12. ^  Donahue, John. The Devil in Devolution, American Prospect, Vol 8 Iss 32, May 1 1997.
  13. ^  Huben, Mike. Libertarianism in One Lesson, last updated 3/13/05, accessed 2/20/06.
  14. ^  Haymen, Gene. Resolving the contradictions of addiction, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 19 (4): 561-610. May 2, 1996.
  15. ^  Kienitz, Paul. I'm Still Not a Libertarian, "Critiques of Libertarianism," accessed 2/20/06.
  16. ^  Plumwood, Val. Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason. New York: Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-415-17877-0. Review by John Hintz.
  17. ^  Barlow, Maude. "Water as Commodity: The Wrong Prescription," Institute for Food and Development Policy Backgrounder, Summer 2001.

National Review Online is the online presence of the prominent conservative political magazine National Review. ... Lew Rockwell Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. ... is the 37th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 2001 Gregorian calendar). ... National Review Online is the online presence of the prominent conservative political magazine National Review. ... Michael Zimmerman is an integral theorist whose interests include Buddhism, Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Ken Wilber. ... Baird Callicott is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies at the University of North Texas. ... The name John Clark may refer to: John Clark (1761-1821), American farmer and Governor of Delaware. ... is the 80th day of the year (81st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... National Review Online is the online presence of the prominent conservative political magazine National Review. ... For the band, see 1997 (band). ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Criticism of libertarianism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2673 words)
Libertarianism is a political philosophy that supports largely unrestricted property rights and opposes most government functions (such as taxation, prosecution of victimless crimes and regulations on businesses beyond the minimum required to prevent fraud or property damage) as coercive, even if a democratic majority supports it.
Libertarians counter that this analysis ignores the complex labor of arranging for and managing production, the various investment risks, and the lost opportunity costs involved in deferring consumption until sufficient capital can be amassed to build a factory or hire workers and then spending it on these factors of production.
Critics sometimes respond that neglecting to tie production to ownership often results in situations in which the producers (workers) do not receive the full benefit of their own labor, or that impoverished laborers cannot "voluntarily" make agreements with someone because the capitalist's control of the means of production is coercive.
  More results at FactBites »



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m