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Professor of philosophy at Auburn University, president of the Molinari Institute
Roderick T. Long

Roderick Tracy Long (born 4 February 1964) is an American professor of philosophy at Auburn University and left-libertarian blogger. He also serves as an editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, director and president of the Molinari Institute, and a Senior Fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society.


4 Feb 1964, Roderick Tracy Long, in Los Angeles


Center for a Stateless Society, Senior Fellow
Mises Institute, Senior Fellow

Web Pages

Roderick T. Long - Online Library of Liberty
Includes profile and link to a "Liberty Matters" (an online discussion forum) event led by Long
Roderick T. Long is Professor of Philosophy at Auburn University, President of the Molinari Institute and Molinari Society, and a Senior Scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He received his philosophical training at Harvard (A.B. 1985) and Cornell (Ph.D. 1992) and has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Michigan. Among his books are, Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand (2000) and Wittgenstein, Austrian Economics, and the Logic of Action (forthcoming from Routledge) ...


The Antimilitarist Libertarian Heritage, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 19 Sep 2014
Reviews writings by Herbert Spencer, "Government Colonization" (in Social Statics (1851)) and "Patriotism" (in Facts and Comments (1902)), on the subjects of war, militarism, colonization and patriotism
[Spencer] is inexplicably condemned as favoring the "law of the jungle" ... As Auburn University philosopher Roderick Long writes,
The textbook summary is absurd, of course. Far from being a proponent of "might makes right," Spencer wrote that the "desire to command is essentially a barbarous desire" because it "implies an appeal to force," which is "inconsistent with the first law of morality" and "radically wrong." While Spencer opposed tax-funded welfare programs, he strongly supported voluntary charity, and indeed devoted ten chapters of his Principles of Ethics to a discussion of the duty of "positive beneficence."
The Consequences of Liberty, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 30 Jan 2015
Compares consequentialism (or utilitarianism) to deontological ethics, also mentioning virtue ethics, and reviews Roderick Long's essay "Why Does Justice Have Good Consequences?"
Roderick Long has something to say on this matter:
In real life, one rarely finds members of either camp [deontologist and consequentialist] relying solely on a single set of considerations. It is a rare moral or political polemic indeed that does not include both consequentialist and deontological arguments. ... Whatever they may say officially, most consequentialists would be deeply disturbed to discover that their favoured policies slighted human dignity, and most deontologists would be deeply disturbed to discover that their favoured policies had disastrous consequences.
Related Topics: Ethics, Free Market, Libertarianism
Crime and Punishment in a Free Society, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Apr 2014
Revised and expanded version of "The Goal Is Freedom" column dated 6 Dec 2013
[Long] writes, "By 'responsibility' I mean ... more than mere causal responsibility, in the sense invoked when we say that the acid was responsible for the corrosion of the metal, or that an asteroid was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. Judgments of causation are, of course, essential to the working of any legal system. But there is a narrower sense of responsibility, having to do with positive considerations of knowledge and control, as well as normative considerations of praiseworthiness, blameworthiness, and obligation; and it is responsibility in this sense that I maintain is legally irrelevant."
Is Edward Snowden a Lawbreaker?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 28 Jun 2013
Considers, in the light of the writings of Lysander Spooner in his "A Letter to Grover Cleveland", whether Edward Snowden "broke the law" by his disclosures of NSA telephone and internet data collection
Auburn University philosopher Roderick Long points out that the principle lex iniusta non est lex — an unjust law is not a law —
was once, and indeed for over two millennia, the dominant position in western philosophy of law... This doctrine was upheld by Socrates, Plato, and Xenophon, by the Stoics and by Cicero, by Augustine and Aquinas, and by Blackstone as well. The traditional idea was that law must be distinguished from mere force by its authority, and that nothing unjust could have genuine authority. ["Inside and Outside Spooner's Jurisprudence" ...]
Related Topics: F. A. Hayek, Law, Lysander Spooner
Libertarianism: The Moral and the Practical, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, May 2014
Explores whether libertarian policies should distinguish between moral and practical concerns; revised version of "The Goal Is Freedom" column of 27 Dec 2013
[A]s Roderick Long points out, there's a problem: "It has often been claimed that indirect utilitarianism is unstable, and must collapse either into direct utilitarianism on the one hand or into 'rules fetishism' on the other." ... Long writes,
Most people are unlikely to find the deontological case for a given course of action compelling so long as they believe it would have terrible consequences; likewise, they are equally unlikely to find the consequentialist case compelling so long as they believe that the action violates human dignity, or equality, or liberty.
The Moral Case for Freedom Is the Practical Case for Freedom, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 27 Dec 2013
Considers whether it is reasonable to draw distinctions between moral and practical arguments for freedom
[B]oth sides of the artificial moral-practical divide need each other ... [Roderick] Long adds, because
In real life, one rarely finds members of either camp relying solely on a single set of considerations. It is a rare moral or political polemic indeed that does not include both consequentialist and deontological arguments. ... Whatever they may say officially, most consequentialists would be deeply disturbed to discover that their favoured policies slighted human dignity, and most deontologists would be deeply disturbed to discover that their favoured policies had disastrous consequences.
One Moral Standard for All, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 15 Nov 2013
Postulates that most nonlibertarians agree that initiation of force is wrong, but they have to be shown that the same moral standard should hold for government personnel as for private individuals
[E]udaimonism, ... Roderick Long writes, "means that virtues like prudence and benevolence play a role in determining the content of justice, but also—via a process of mutual adjustment—that justice plays a role in determining the content of virtues like prudence and benevolence." ... [T]he libertarian principle ... establishes the most fundamental equality of all persons ... : what Long calls equality of authority ... Long traces out a key implication of this idea: "Lockean equality involves not merely equality before legislators, judges, and police, but, far more crucially, equality with legislators, judges, and police."
The Open Society and Its Worst Enemies, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 16 Jan 2015
Considers the 7-9 January 2015 attacks in Paris and contrasts the choice between an open, free society and imperialistic, militaristic foreign intervention
The ruling elite and its court intellectuals solemnly speak of the need to balance liberty and security ... But they don't want a real public discussion ... But even this concedes too much, because there is no balance to be struck ... As libertarian philosopher Roderick Long wrote,
What we want is not to be attacked or coercively interfered with—by anyone, be they our own government, other nations' governments, or private actors. Would you call that freedom? or would you call it security? You can't trade off freedom against security because they're exactly the same thing.
Related Topics: Imperialism, Society, Terrorism, War
The Phony Trade-off between Privacy and Security, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 16 Aug 2013
In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations and subsequent policy directives by Barack Obama, examines the claim that, in a dangerous world, a "balance" must be struck between privacy and security
Roderick Long made a similar point on his blog, The Austro-Athenian Empire:
In the wake of the recent NSA revelations, there's increased talk about the need to "balance" freedom against security. I even see people recycling Larry Niven's law that freedom + security = a constant.
Nonsense. What we want is not to be attacked or coercively interfered with—by anyone, be they our own government, other nations' governments, or private actors. Would you call that freedom? or would you call it security?
You can't trade off freedom against security because they're exactly the same thing.
Property and Force: A Reply to Matt Bruenig, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 22 Nov 2013
Responds to blogger Bruenig's criticism of the essay "One Moral Standard for All"; with quotes or examples from Roderick Long, Murray Rothbard, Gary Chartier, David Hume and Karl Hess
As Roderick Long formulates the Principle of Proportion: "If S violates O's boundary, O (or O's agent) has the right to invade S's boundary in whatever way is necessary to end S's violation of O's boundary, so long as O's (or O' agent's) invasion of S's boundary is not disproportionate to the seriousness of S's violation of O's boundary." (Also see Long's "The Irrelevance of Responsibility".) ... Roderick Long wrote in private correspondence, "Master and slave are interdefined; so are parent and child. It's not circular because we can define the whole relationship."
Rothbard's For a New Liberty, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 16 May 2014
Reexamines For a New Liberty (1973) with emphasis on Rothbard's discussion of the nonaggression axiom and natural rights
Does that mean [Rothbard] was wrong to call [the nonagression axiom] an axiom? Not according to Roderick Long:
Another objection ... focuses on the term "axiom," which is sometimes taken to imply that the prohibition of aggression enjoys a special epistemic status ... While some proponents of the prohibition do indeed claim such a status for it, many do not ... [T]here is a broader sense of "axiom" in which a foundational presupposition of a given system of thought counts as an axiom within that system of thought ... even if it rests on some deeper justification outside that system ...
Variations on a Corporatist Theme, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 13 Apr 2012
Contrasts the rhetoric on both sides of the 2012 U.S. presidential contest, finding it fundamentally alike
As Roderick Long wrote in his 2006 Rothbard Memorial Lecture:
We might compare the alliance between government and big business to the alliance between church and state in the Middle Ages. Of course it's in the interest of both parties to maintain the alliance—but ... each side would like to be the dominant partner, so it's no surprise that the history of such alliances will often look like a history of conflict and antipathy, as each side struggles to get the upper hand. But this struggle must be read against a common background framework of cooperation to maintain the system of control.
What Social Animals Owe to Each Other, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 18 Apr 2014
Delves into the meaning and justification for the non-aggression principle, with insights from Roderick Long's "Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand"
Roderick Long tackles this problem in his extended essay "Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand". What Long shows ... is that Rand's notion of self-interest ... in her nonfiction essays is too flimsy to support the libertarian prohibition on aggression ... [He] shows that Rand's explicit writings on ethics are a tangle of at least three different and inconsistent defenses for the [NAP] ... Long adds, "To violate the rights of others, then, is to lessen one's humanity ... To trample on the rights of others is never in our self-interest, because well-being cannot [quoting Aristotle] 'come about for those who rob and use force.'"
Where Is the Constitution?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 28 Jul 2006
Discusses the varying legal interpretations of the U.S. Constitution, what is meant by "obeying rules" and suggests that to effect change in a pro-liberty direction, the "hearts and minds" of people must change
The Auburn University philosopher Roderick Long recently touched on this subject ... Long's purpose was to explore the political and other implications of what the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein called the "rule-following paradox." We know rule-following when we see it ... but what is it? It is neither words in one's mind or on paper (or parchment) that compel certain behavior, nor physical motions, which could be consistent with many different rules. Rather, it's a kind of purposeful human action ... in a particular context that cannot be reduced to either a mental state nor a series of motions.
Will 2016 Be a Good Year for the Corporate State?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 13 Dec 2013
Considers the prospective 2016 U.S. presidential contenders preferred by "Wall Streeters", Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, and how they line up with the aims of the corporate state, and further comments about South Africa under Mandela
Roderick Long explains,
Those who see government power and corporate power as being in conflict, and those who seem them as being in cahoots, each have a point. The alliance ... is like the partnership between church and state in the Middle Ages: each one wants to be the dominant partner ... The main difference between "left-wing" and "right-wing" versions of statism ... is that the former generally seek to shift the balance a bit farther in favour of the state (i.e., toward state-socialism) while the latter generally seek to shift the balance a bit farther in favour of corporatism ...


Ancient Greece's Legacy for Liberty: Personal Freedom in Athens, 24 Sep 2015
Discusses the political system of ancient Athens and the personal liberties it afforded its citizens, resident aliens and slaves
In his 1819 essay "The Liberty of the Ancients Compared With That of the Moderns," Benjamin Constant argued that the ancient Greco-​Roman conception of liberty was primarily concerned with the freedom to participate in the collective decisions of the state ... Athenian playwrights like Aristophanes lampooned the city's political leaders upon the public stage, assailed Athenian foreign policy, and satirized the gods too. Athenian commitment to being free to live as one pleases may have had its limits, but the idea was there, and it was implemented to an impressive extent.
Ayn Rand, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 8 Jun 2010
Major sections: Introduction - Ethics - Social-Political Philosophy - Aesthetics - Bibliography; last substantive revision 19 Sep 2016
Ayn Rand (1905–1982) was a novelist-philosopher who outlined a comprehensive philosophy, including an epistemology and a theory of art, in her novels and essays. ... The Fountainhead brought Rand international fame, and Atlas Shrugged (1957) sealed this fame. By 1958, Rand's novels, increasingly philosophical, had won her ideas a sufficiently devoted following for her to form, in association with psychologist Nathaniel Branden (with whom she later broke), an official 'Objectivist' philosophical movement, complete with journals and lecture courses.
Related Topic: Ayn Rand
Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803-1882), The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Massachusetts native, was one of the founders of Transcendentalism, a philosophical, literary, and cultural movement that stressed spiritual oneness with nature, reliance on inner experience, and rejection of social conformity. Other prominent Transcendentalists included Bronson Alcott and Henry David Thoreau ... he favored "free trade with all the world without toll or custom-houses" and was skeptical of the practicability of top-down, governmentally imposed solutions to social problems ... individualist anarchists ... who sought to achieve socialist ends by free-market means, found Emerson a congenial spirit.
Ethics Study Guide: Aristotle
Part of study guide to Prof. Long's introductory ethics course; includes biographical details, comments on Aristotle's ethical and political writings, short introductions to Rethoric and Nichomachean Ethics and study questions
Aristotle believes that most of his fellow Greeks are mistaken about the nature of the human good, identifying it with wealth or power rather than with virtuous activity. ... Aristotle's theories have been seen as a mere transcription of existing mores only because modern scholars have mistakenly read Aristotle's outlook back into the mores that he is in fact criticizing. ... But a careful reading of his works shows that Aristotle was keenly aware of, and bitterly opposed to, the centralizing political trends of his day.
Related Topics: Aristotle, Dialectics, Ethics
The Justice and Prudence of War: Toward A Libertarian Analysis, Mises Daily, 20 Sep 2006
Examines the ethics of war from a libertarian viewpoint, considering both deontological (is war itself right or wrong) and consequentialist (are war's consequences right or wrong) perspectives
The morality of warfare is an issue that has long divided libertarians. The spectrum of libertarian opinion on the subject ranges all the way from Leonard Peikoff, who defends the use of nuclear weapons against civilian targets, to Robert LeFevre, who denied the legitimacy of all violence, even in self-defense ... From a libertarian point of view, an interventionist foreign policy is a dead end, both on deontological and on consequentialist grounds; libertarians must continue to be economic and cultural internationalists, but political and military isolationists.
Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections, 6 Aug 2004
Transcript of informal talk given at the 2004 Mises University. First makes the case for anarchism and then responds to objections others have raised against it
I want to talk about some of the main objections that have been given to libertarian anarchism and my attempts to answer them. But before I start ..., there is no point in trying to answer objections to a view unless you have given some positive reason to hold the view in the first place ...
But, if we assume that [protection agencies] formed the cartel out of their own economic self-interest, then [that] is precisely what leads to the undermining because it's in their interest to deal with the person, just as it's always in your interest to engage in mutually beneficial trade.
Liberty in the Ancient World, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Surveys the ancient civilizations in Sumeria, Hebrew Palestine, China, Greece and the Roman Republic and Empire, and their thoughts and practices about liberty
Posterity's debt to the great civilizations of antiquity is enormous, but this legacy can hardly be regarded as consistently libertarian ... Athenian society had many libertarian aspects. Its economic and intellectual freedom attracted merchants and philosophers from all over the Greek world ... Cicero saw Roman law as an embodiment of the universal Natural Law of the Stoics and described the state's proper function as defense of property ... it can be argued that the Christian emphasis on the sacred value of the individual soul laid the foundation for the development of theories of individual rights.
The Myth of 19th-Century Laissez-Faire: Who Benefits Today?, 10 Jun 2013
Responds to questions posed by Michael Lind and E. J. Dionne Jr. regarding lack of actual libertarian countries or the supposedly "small government libertarian utopia" in the late 19th century
Last week Michael Lind asked a silly question ("The question libertarians just can't answer"): if libertarianism is so great, why hasn't any country tried it? The question is silly because the libertarian answer is obvious: Libertarianism is great for ordinary people, but not for the power elites that control countries ... The regulations against which Tea Partiers rail are mainly secondary regulations, the belt over the bones ... A better question we might ask Lind and Dionne: if the intrusive state is so great, why does it need to retain its clients by force, rather than letting them peacefully opt out?
Robert Nozick, Philosopher of Liberty, The Freeman, Sep 2002
Focuses mainly on Nozick's contributions in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (page references are to 1974 edition), with brief reference to his later works and his death earlier in 2002
Twenty-eight years ago a Harvard philosophy professor named Robert Nozick did something unthinkable in polite intellectual society: he published a book defending libertarianism. In 1974 libertarian ideas had virtually no presence within the academic establishment ... Robert Nozick died on January 23, 2002, after a long battle with cancer. But the impact of his most famous book continues to grow ... [T]hese days, [philosopher Jonathan] Wolff laments, he all too often encounters a third view: "that, broadly speaking, Nozick is right." Thank you, Robert Nozick.


Are You an Anarchist?, The Lew Rockwell Show, 14 Nov 2008
Long explains what is anarchism and describes his intellectual influences
Related Topic: Anarchism

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Roderick T. Long" as of 4 Nov 2021, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.