Problems With the Notion of Freedom and Voluntariness in Right Libertarianism

Igor Wysocki 1
  • 1 , Independent scholar Toruń, Poland

Abstract

In this short paper, we investigate the problems with the employment of the notion of freedom and voluntariness in libertarianism. We pretend to demonstrate that these two, as conceived of by libertarians, figure in as the main issue when it comes to justifying its major institutions, say: bequeathing, gifts, transactions (or what they label as “voluntary transfer”). The difficulty here boils down to the fact that a purely rights-based idea of freedom and voluntariness, the pretentions of Nozick notwithstanding, cannot do alone, since it is the consideration whether we do something (e.g. bequeath, donate etc.) voluntarily (or freely) (in a non-moralized sense) that could account for the rights redistribution. Therefore, it seems that – at least sometimes – the notion of voluntariness (or freedom) is prior to the notion of rights.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1. Austin, J. L. How to Do Things With Words, Second Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976.

  • 2. Block, W. Voluntary slavery. Libertarian Connection 6, 1969, pp. 9-11.

  • 3. Cohen, G. A. Self-ownership, Freedom, and Equality, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995

  • 4. Feinberg, J. Harm to Self. Vol. 3, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.

  • 5. Hohfeld, W. Some fundamental legal conceptions as applied in judicial reasoning, The Yale Law Review 23, 1913, pp. 16-59.

  • 6. Honoré, A. M. Ownership, In: A.G. Guest (ed)., Oxford Essays in Jurisprudence, Oxford: Clarendon Press,1961, pp. 107-126.

  • 7. Moore, M. S. Causation and Responsibility. An Essay in Law, Morals and Metaphysics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

  • 8. Nozick, R. Anarchy, State and Utopia, Oxford: Blackwell, 1974.

  • 9. Olsaretti, S. Freedom, force and choice: against the rights-based definition of voluntariness. Journal of Political Philosophy 6, 1998, pp. 53–78.

  • 10. Parfit, D. On What Matters, Vol. 2, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

  • 11. Rothbard, M. N. For a New Liberty, 2nd ed, Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2006.

  • 12. Simmonds, N. E. and H. Steiner. A Debate over Rights: Philosophical Inquiries, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

  • 13. Wertheimer, A. Coercion, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.

OPEN ACCESS

Journal + Issues

Search