Areopagitica: Milton's Influence on Classical and Modern Political and Economic Thought
, by Isaac M. Morehouse, 15 Dec 2009
Discusses the four sections of Milton's 1644 pamphlet, the reasons for which and the environment in which it was published, and various lessons or parallels that can be made from an economic and political philosophy perspective
[T]o Milton, ... [r]egulations, by making that choice for the people, would deprive them of the very thing needed to make them morally strong ... He did not see men as an unruly mob in need of strong central direction as did Hobbes, but not because he thought the public was upstanding and virtuous. Though his poetry was romantic, Milton himself was immensely realistic. He argued for free speech precisely because he believed that the public could not become virtuous in the presence of a state that would make moral decisions for them, and because no group of leaders could be virtuous enough to be conscience for all.
Libertarianism and Legal Paternalism
[PDF], by John Hospers
, The Journal of Libertarian Studies
Discusses laws "designed to protect people from themselves" arguing that in general such laws are illegitimate
Legal moralism is the view that the entire nation should be governed by one morality and/or religion ... Legal paternalism is the view that the law should, at least sometimes, require people to act (a) against their will (b) for their own good, in that way protecting them from the undesirable consequences of their own actions. Thus, according to legal paternalists, the State should prohibit drugs because otherwise people might take them, and even if the danger is only to their own health or life the State should protect such values for them if they are too foolish or incompetent to do so for themselves.
Libertarianism Is the Key to Our Future
, by Jacob G. Hornberger
, Freedom Daily
, Jul 2006
Examines three reasons—freedom, morality and pragmatism—that suggest that Americans will eventually return to their libertarian heritage
Here is the controlled-society argument with respect to morality: Your ... ancestors didn't believe in drug laws, which means that they favored the use of harmful substances. Many ... abused their freedom by ingesting alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and other harmful drugs. To do such things to one's body is immoral. The federal government, consisting of democratically elected ... officials, used the power of the government to stamp out such immorality. By refraining from doing something immoral, even if out of fear of state prosecution and punishment, the ... people are now more moral as a result.
, by F. A. Harper
, 4 Sep 1957
Speech to the Mont Pelerin Society; Harper first offers his definition of liberty, then explores "adulterated" definitions, its relation to morals, moral law and basic humans rights, ending with his hope for the cause of liberty
To speak of morals ... is not the same as speaking of liberty, but instead refers to a qualitative measure of those acts ... A person cannot do right except ... where there is also the option of doing wrong. In other words, moral considerations have no place except where liberty exists ... A stone can do no right or wrong ... It follows ... that no problem of morals can ever be resolved by removing liberty, in a degree either large or small. All that can be done by enslavement is to remove the moral consideration from the enslaved person's life, and relegate him toward the status of a stone.
Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication of Moral Liberty
, by Lysander Spooner
Contrasts crimes and vices, discussing the need to legislate or take other governmental action against the former but not the latter, countering several potential arguments in favor of vice legislation, in particular laws regarding spirituous liquors
Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another. Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness ... no one ever practises a vice with any such criminal intent. He practises his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others ... Every voluntary act of a man's life is either virtuous or vicious. That is to say, it is either in accordance, or in conflict, with those natural laws of matter and mind on which his physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being depend.
The War on Drugs: Seen vs. the Unseen
, by Angela Dills, 26 Oct 2015
Discusses the drug war in the context of Bastiat's essay "What is Seen and What is Unseen"
People do things every day that I would not choose to do, many of which I think are unwise. They sky-dive, bungee-jump, and spend large sums on a designer pair of shoes. They tattoo and pierce their body, gamble in Las Vegas, and spend hours eating potato chips and watching TV. And they drink, smoke, and consume drugs. Many people engage in these activities without significant harm to themselves and with much enjoyment. Others find themselves suffering the consequences of unwise choices. Either way, as adults, it ought to be legal for them to do so and to experience the benefits and consequences of their choices.
What It Means to Be a Libertarian
[PDF], by Randolph J. May, Cato Journal
Review of Charles Murray's book What It Means to Be a Libertarian
(1997), contrasting it with Tocqueville's writings in Democracy in America
On the always interesting "vice" issues ... Murray ... does not shy away from arguing that freedom means that adults should be able to do in private whatever they please—even if they harm themselves—as long as such activity does not harm others. Thus, he would legalize drugs and prostitution so long as those activities are pursued in a non-coercive, voluntary fashion. (I should add that Murray does not promote those activities; he just believes that individuals and communities will be much better able to protect themselves from any harms inflicted by those activities through private social controls rather than government regulation.)
Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country
, by Peter McWilliams
Contents: Part I: The Basic Premise - Part II: Why Laws Against Consensual Activities are not a Good Idea - Part III: A Closer Look at the Consensual Crimes - Part IV: Six Chapters in Search of a Shorter Book - Part V: What To Do?
Defending the Undefendable: The Pimp, Prostitute, Scab, Slumlord, Libeler, Moneylender, and Other Scapegoats in the Rogue's Gallery of American Society
by Walter Block
, F. A. Hayek
(commentary), Murray N. Rothbard
Partial contents: The Drug Addict - The Slanderer and Libeler - The Advertiser - The Gypsy Cab Driver - The Inheritor - The Moneylender - The Speculator - The Importer - The Middleman - The Profiteer - The Fat Capitalist-Pig Employer
Liberty & Virtue
, by James Otteson, 29 Jun 2011
Explains why virtuous behaviour presupposes freely taken or uncoerced decisions
So the question is if people begin to behave in the way that we would like them to behave ... as a result of our pushing them ever so slightly, maybe just nudging them ... are they virtuous? Well my argument is that, no. If a person makes a choice because he or she is being pushed in that direction, that's not a virtuous choice, because virtue requires having freely chosen the behavior. Coerced behavior or even just nudged behavior, to the extent that the person is not completely free in choosing, to that same extent the person is no longer capable of acting virtuously.