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Libertarians Morally Bankrupt

My son Chris and I have been discussing Libertarians, and frankly just don't get it. Perhaps we still have a libertarian reader or two that can justify their philosophy.

Libertarians think that the winners in society earn what they get fair and square. For that to be true, everybody has to have an equal opportunity. To think that there is equal opportunity is delusional. For example, consider race. "When researchers in the United States sent out identical résumés to prospective employers, some with white-sounding names (e.g., Emily and Greg) and others with black-sounding names (e.g., Lakisha and Jamal), the white résumés generated 50 percent more calls from employers."

Greene, Joshua (2013-10-31). Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them (p. 13). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

More to the point, Libertarianism naturally leads to unequal opportunities. The rich pass on their advantages to their children, who then begin life with a head start. That head start is based on an accident of birth, not talent or hard work. This always be the case, hence, libertarianism produces unequal opportunity. This undermines its moral foundation, the fair and square, of earning what you get.


 

Comments

"Libertarians think that the winners in society earn what they get fair and square."

That seems a bit of a straw man to me. I don't claim to be a libertarian, but I have know many in my life, and have yet to hear any of them say anything remotely resembling this.

From what I understand, they argue that government attempts to legislate equality does more bad than good.

From what I understand, they argue that government attempts to legislate equality does more bad than good.

While some libertarians make consequentialist noises, most have struck me as deontological in their approach to ethics and social issues. Moreover, libertarianism seems to be attached to the ethical system of egoism.

I started a thread about it here on Sam Harris' Project Reason forum if anyone's interested to read it.

Can't say I disagree with your conclusions Erick. Ron Paul followers can be impossible to talk to. I do wonder how many of them were motivated to take on such positions by the nanny-statism that is taking over much of this country though. Bloomberg type laws seem to fly in the face of freedom, and even when I agree with their intent, the method seems extreme.

I think it's just a matter of inadequate understanding of freedom. And then a honest, but misguided, enthusiasm about the intellectual sand castle they build on that understanding.

(Basically they believe that freedom is negative freedom. "Freedom from", not "freedom to".)

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