Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Note on Libertarianism and Good Samaritanism

It is better to be a libertarian and a good Samaritan than to be just a libertarian. However, it is crucial to remember that one does not become more of a libertarian by virtue of being a good Samaritan. That is, in fact, the whole point - becoming a good Samaritan is necessarily a matter of free choice, and the role of libertarianism is to make that choice possible, not to push anyone towards it. Thus, it is a logical mistake to say "I am a good Samaritan because I am a libertarian" as if it were a straightforward logical implication. What can and should be said instead is "it is only because I am a libertarian that I can be a good Samaritan". Libertarianism has inherent thin moral value, part of which is that individual liberty is a necessary precondition of actualizing many inherent thick moral values, but it is crucial to remember that it does not favor any of them. In other words, the good is a necessary precondition of the better, but it clearly does not mean that the two are identical.

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