Act libertarianism and rule libertarianism

posted by
August 29, 2011
by Arnold Kling  
Posted in Commentary

"I think it might help to distinguish between a straw-man act-libertarianism and a more reasonable rule-libertarianism. Act libertarianism would mean that at any given moment you are free to do whatever you want, following no rules whatsoever. Rule libertarianism would mean that you are free to bind yourself by undertaking voluntary contractual commitments, to follow a set of rules." (08/27/11)  
  • Umm … I've only had time to look at the blurb so far, but I already see a fallacy: liberty can only exist when it is granted to others as well, so even under "act libertarianism" my right to free action is still limited by my refraining from limiting your similar action — we must act peaceably, and without the use of force or fraud in gaining our intended ends. This "circumscribed means" (scope of action) is what defines libertarianism (cf. Kent van Cleave, who coined that term). So not sure what your thesis is going to be, although I admit I haven't had time to read the whole piece as yet …

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