In somewhat cartoon terms, one strand takes liberty to be a (or in extreme cases, the) fundamental human good in and of itself; the other takes liberty to be a means to the end of discovery of methods of social organization that create other benefits. I’ll call the first “liberty-as-goal” libertarianism and the second “liberty-as-means” libertarianism. Obviously, one can hold both of these beliefs simultaneously, and many people do. But in my observation, when pushed to develop a position on some difficult issue, most self-described libertarians reveal a temperament that leans strongly in one direction or the other. Again, in cartoon terms, I’d describe the first temperament as idealistic, deductive and theory-based, and the second as practical, inductive and experiment-based. To lay my cards on the table, I fall squarely into the second camp.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
“Liberty-as-goal” libertarianism and the second “liberty-as-means” libertarianism
I don't normally have much time to read Andrew Sullivan anymore, though he's a favorite writer of several of my friends. A recent piece, The Paradox of Libertarianism under his column but written by Jim Manzi caught my attention and it might catch yours too. One paragraph: