A Neo-Republican Critique of Hard Libertarianism
This paper argues that hard libertarianism is not a social philosophy guided by the ‘presumption of liberty’. Instead, hard libertarianism is more appropriately conceived of as a ‘property-rights-based theory of justice’. Moreover, libertarians maintain that institutionalizing their avowed theory of justice will sufficiently secure individual liberty. This too is inaccurate: for it will be shown that libertarian theory overlooks relevant social threats to the freedom of persons. The classical understanding of liberty holds that one’s freedom is compromised when their will is subordinated to the will of an arbitrary power. As we will see, libertarianism shows concern for only one mechanism by which arbitrary powers can subordinate the will of others to their own: aggression. However, I will show that there exist other significant mechanisms beyond aggression by which people can see their will subordinated to an arbitrary power. In what follows, I offer the mechanism of ‘dependency exploita-tion’ as one such example. Thus, a theory of justice focused exclusively on preventing aggression – as libertarianism does – fails to adequately address other meaningful mechanisms of will-subordination. Alternative political theories committed to the presumption of liberty – such as neo-republicanism – takes seriously the problem of dependency exploitation (in addition to aggression), and therefore offer a more compelling social philosophy for freedom lovers.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Robert Donoghue, "A Neo-Republican Critique of Hard Libertarianism" in: "Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2020) XXII/3", EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, Trieste, 2021, pp. 703-727
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