On Libertarian Ethics

As a libertarian ideologist I maintain that free will is a basic human right, and that all legitimate rights are derived from our natural basic needs. Everyone is born expressing free will, for the cry of the newborn asserts a natural aversion for discomfort and is a subsequent demand for comfort and care. Generally speaking very little changes in this regard from the moment of one’s emergence from the womb to the very instant of one’s death. The rudiments of libertarian ideology are realized in those earliest experiences of our being, and remain so throughout our lifetime.

Freedom of expression and legitimate human rights are derived from nature and are applicable to everyone on an equitable basis. It follows then that such rights are not subject to being supplanted by another individual, nor by system or social collective. The implications which follow constitute the basis for libertarian ethics.

The notion of libertarian ethics is paramount to the very principle of libertarian ideology itself. Free will unfettered by ethical restraint would constitute social chaos. Such an atmosphere would render oppression and exploitation. By no means could such a circumstance be regarded as libertarian in any sense of the concept.

The limitations of liberty are elementary to the universal applicability of the very concept itself. Thus the applicability of legitimate rights to everyone necessarily limits the freedom of anyone to impose upon such with reference to any other given individual. Each person’s natural rights then negate any perceived liberty of anyone to alter or supplant another individual’s rights. The question then arises as to the distinction between legitimate rights and perceived rights which are in fact illegitimate.

As legitimate rights are derived from our basic natural needs, then assumed rights which are not evident from nature are in actuality illegitimate assertions as so proposed. In this regard efforts to exercise one’s will at the expense of another’s natural rights are illicit endeavors and are representative of illegitimate authority. Hence any system so inclined likewise qualifies as an exercise of illegitimate authority and should therefore be either amended or altogether eliminated in order to maintain libertarian principles.

The principle then of “freedom from” serves as a natural governor which quite adequately regulates one’s perceived “freedom to” with regards to human relations. In fact the utility of such in essence is the basis for libertarian ethics. For each individual then to comprehend the limitations of their own freedom there needs to be a degree of understanding as to the rights which are natural to each person based upon our innate qualities and implied human rights.

Comfort being the primary concern of the individual from the womb to the grave so to speak, then it follows that such is the basis for natural rights. There is perhaps no more basic human instinct than to seek comfort and to avoid any degree of discomfort. The moment by moment quest for comfort constitutes the process of each person’s daily existence. Thus it seems reasonable that any exercise of one’s perceived freedom which hinders or denies the legitimate right of another person to comfort would constitute an illicit effort of illegitimate authority.

In essence libertarian ideology entails the responsibility to recognize and respect the natural rights of others. Inconsistency in this regard may very well be the assertion of one’s will, yet such is by no mean the exercise of a natural right. For the denial of any given person’s natural rights is by no means in and of itself a natural right. Rather such constitutes a breach of legitimate libertarian principles.

The principles of libertarian ideology being rooted in the concept of natural rights, then libertarian ethics naturally restricts one’s actions as a matter of respect for the natural rights of others. Libertarian ethics are thus derived from the concept that the free will of the one is always to be regulated by the natural rights of the other. Liberty for all then necessarily entails the limits of individual and collective freedom so that everyone may be truly free from any degree of oppression or exploitation.


2 thoughts on “On Libertarian Ethics

  1. I appreciate this explanation, but I don’t see how this philosophy differs from any other philosophy like socialism or laissez-faire capitalism in which it sounds good when you read about it, but is not so easy to put in practice as one that will be most beneficial for people. So I agree with what you say in principle, but even many people who consider themselves libertarian don’t seem to adhere to the values as you’ve outlined them here.

    I guess part of the problem for me on libertarian ideology is two fold. It seems to rely on a libertarian idea of free will. Even scientists who hang on to the notion of free will agree that it is certainly not libertarian free will and that we do not have absolutely free choice in what actions we decide to take.

    Second is that even if we were to grant that everybody in this moment time had the exact same opportunity and potential to advance their station in life, there will simply be winners and losers and the next generation is already with certain people experiencing some level of privilege and certain people who have the deck stacked against. Unless there is some social safety net to keep the playing field level libertarianism as you describe it could never be realistically implemented. Again I don’t doubt that the true Utopia is all of us governing ourselves with perfection as you describe, but such perfection just seems more of a fanciful dream than anything any other governance system has concocted, but I for one am certainly not saying we shouldn’t work towards that effort. In fact what you describe in your other post on Limited Libertarian Socialism sounds like a good idea. Because built into the philosophy as you’ve laid out here is that we must balance our individual freedom against that of the collective and their rights. Thus we set up a system in which neither individualism or collectivism dominates but that we find some balance between them because as a social species we must recognize that nothing we do really exists in a bubble.

    I guess I would say the other big barrier I see here is related to your last statement. How indeed do we know when oppression is happening. Christians feel persecuted because they must be tolerant of other sexual orientations and belief systems. I don’t think they are really being persecuted, but their perspective is that they are. We also have the problem on the other end where oppression because so systemic that those who are being oppressed become complicit with their own oppression. Through indoctrination and propaganda, a group of people may actually believe they are less than human deserve their mistreatment. The former example here, about Christian persecution is something that is current and happening, and those people have a lot of political power. How do protect against loss of privilege being seen as oppression? I suspect that many of those people would claim at least some libertarian values. And again, so while I agree with you in theory, I don’t see how a libertarian philosophy is adopted by people given the state the world is in currently. If it’s simply a matter of education, then I agree that this would help a great deal, but that’s true even without worry about libertarianism. A more educated public will in general be better self-governors,.

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