Introduction

Philosophical criticism of libertarianism in recent decades  has been directed almost entirely against Nozick’s Anarchy,  State, and Utopia (ASU), with occasional shots aimed at  Hayek.  This  contributes  to  the  mistaken impression  that  no important philosophical work on behalf of libertarian  conclusions has appeared since the 1970s. A major purpose  of this chapter is to dispel this impression by providing brief  accounts of the work of other philosophical defenders of  libertarianism. A related purpose is to further convey the  character of the themes and contentions that comprise liber- tarian theorizing by seeing them at work in different forms or  configurations than we have seen in Nozick or in Hayek. I will  discuss the work of Hillel Steiner, centering on his An Essay  onRights (hereafter ER) (Steiner 1994), Loren Lomasky,  centering on his Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community  (hereafter  PRMC)  (Lomasky  1987),  Douglas  Rasmussen  and Douglas Den Uyl, centering on their Norms of Liberty  (hereafter NL) (Rasmussen and Den Uyl 2005), and David  Schmidtz, centering on his Elements of Justice (hereafter EJ)  (Schmidtz 2006).1 I concentrate on foundational arguments  and implications for property rights and economic justice.  Since all these theorists are highly sophisticated thinkers, I  can here convey only the barest essentials of their doctrines.

In the chapter on Philosophical Antecedents and the two chapters on Nozick and Hayek, we repeatedly encounter  the idea that individuals have their own lives to lead – their  own happiness or purposes to pursue2 – and that reasonable  social norms do not demand that persons “rise above” this  partiality to their own ends. The search for reasonable social  or political principles is not the search for some common  substantive end (or hierarchy of ends) that all must make  their own and serve. Rather, it is a search for norms that  duly take account of our equal status as agents with (often  intertwining) ends of our own. A search of the latter sort  characteristically leads libertarian-inclined theorists to norms  that explicitly require respect for the liberty of individuals to  pursue their own happiness or projects or to norms – like the  Humean–Hayekian principles of justice – respect for which  is constitutive of our liberty. Moreover, according to liberty- leaning theorists, a regime of rightful or just liberty requires  the identification of moral boundaries that mark off spheres  of discretionary choice – morally sovereign domains within  which individuals may do as they respectively see fit singly or  in voluntary cooperation with others. Despite the very signif- icant differences among the philosophical schemes examined  in this chapter, this deep pattern persists.

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