and Libertarianism Compared
Revised: September 29, 2003
Autonomy-Centered Liberalism Libertarianism Basic Value Enhancement of
and non-injury to autonomy
Non-injury to powers associated with liberty and property General Objects of
Security, liberty, recognition, subsistence, equality [, political participation] Life, liberty, property (understood as enjoining non-interference upon others) Universalism? Everyone has an equal basic right to the general objects of human rights Everyone has an equal basic right to the general objects of human rights Forfeiture of rights? Yes, if one violates the rights of others Yes, if one violates the rights of others View of sexual morality Activities that do not violate human rights are not the business of the government; through mutual voluntary agreements people may impose additional restrictions upon each other. Activities that do not violate non-interference rights are not the business of the government; through mutual voluntary agreements people may impose additional restrictions upon each other. Purpose of government Protect, secure, and where necessary provide objects of human rights Protect and secure non-interference rights to life, liberty, property Taxation To pay for legitimate public expenses To pay for protection of non-interference rights only Rights to equal opportunity Yes, in education, hiring, promotion None Material means to make security, liberty, and political rights effective Should be available at public expense, insofar as affordable. But see Self-Reliance. One has no right to receive material support apart from what one has contracted for. Right to education Yes, a baseline is necessary for everyone, to make other rights viable. No, one must arrange for education for oneself or one's children in the marketplace. Right to health care Yes, a baseline is necessary for everyone, to make other rights viable. But see Self-Reliance. No, one must arrange and pay for health care oneself or rely on charity. Duty of beneficence? Yes, when efforts required are not excessive Charity is not morally required. Self-reliance /
People individually and collectively through voluntary arrangements should get the objects of HR for themselves, so far as possible Everyone has the right to exchange with, or be hired by, anyone willing to deal with him. Duty to keep contracts Important but subject to modification in light of rights and other duties The backbone of interpersonal transactions Growth of rich-poor gap Should be offset by maintaining a minimum threshhold for everyone; perhaps also by linking privileges of the asset-rich with improvements for the least advantaged Not a problem if it arises through voluntary transfer and luck Public financing of campaigns Yes, to prevent excessive influence of asset-rich. Formal fairness is necessary but not sufficient. Formal fairness (e.g., following general rules, counting all votes of legitimate voters) is sufficient. Pollution? Wrong when it undermines the conditions needed for living an autonomous (including healthy) human life Wrong when it degrades the value of our property without our consent.