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Mere Libertarianism: Blending Hayek and Rothbard

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  • Klein, Daniel

    ()
    (Department of Economics)

Abstract

As many have argued, libertarianism as idea and movement contains strands that often conflict, beg questions, or try our sensibilities. There are multiple libertarianisms. Two leading theorists of modern libertarianism are Friedrich Hayek and Murray Rothbard. Both pupils of Ludwig von Mises, Hayek and Rothbard provide dual libertarianisms that share a common precept but sustain that precept in inverse ways. Both Hayek and Rothbard maintain that, in societies like theirs, the desirable always concords with liberty (or maximal liberty). Rothbard achieved this concordance by molding his sensibilities about the desirable to fit his definition of liberty. Hayek achieved this concordance by molding his definition of liberty to fit his sensibilities about the desirable. These two libertarianisms represent a duality of worthy rhetorical tasks, namely, those of the “bargainer” (exemplified by Hayek) and the “challenger” (exemplified by Rothbard). But libertarians ought to reject the precept of concordance: the desirable does not always concord with liberty. I attempt a blending of Hayek and Rothbard that recognizes the several limitations of libertarianism, sustains Hayek’s sensibilities, yet maintains Rothbard’s cogent definition of liberty. The paper explores various ways in which the proposed blending makes for a reasonable and versatile “mere” libertarianism that successfully participates in mainstream discourse.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 29.

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Length: 60 pages
Date of creation: 22 Dec 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming in Reason Papers, 2004.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0029

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Keywords: liberty; libertarianism; property; liberty maxim; ambiguity; incompleteness; undesirability; bargainer; challenger;

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References

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  1. Murray Rothbard, 1982. "Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 2(1), pages 55-99, Spring.
  2. Daniel Klein, 1997. "Convention, Social Order, and the Two Coordinations," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 319-335, December.
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Cited by:
  1. David Hedengren & Daniel B. Klein & Carrie Milton, 2010. "Economist Petitions: Ideology Revealed," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 7(3), pages 288-319, September.
  2. Berggren, Niclas, 2008. "Choosing One’s Own Informal Institutions: On Hayek’s Critique of Keynes’s Immoralism," Ratio Working Papers 118, The Ratio Institute.

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  1. Murray Rothbard in Wikipedia English ne '')
  2. Murray Rothbard in Wikipedia Swedish ne '')
  3. Användare:Benjaminjuhlin/Rothbard in Wikipedia Swedish ne '')

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