Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Philosophy of Equal, not Absolute Freedom

Libertarianism is sometimes called "the philosophy of absolute freedom". If, however, by "absolute freedom" one means freedom unconstrained by the freedom of others, then one can only mean the freedom of an all-powerful despot, a phenomenon as remote from libertarian values and sensibilities as is humanly imaginable.

Thus, libertarianism is not the philosophy of "absolute freedom", but the philosophy of equal freedom - a philosophy that constrains the freedom of an individual by the like freedom of others (as well as by its natural extension in the form of justly acquired private property). In this context, the most characteristic feature of libertarianism is its authentically egalitarian attitude toward the question of freedom, an attitude incompatible with any individual or institutional privileges regarding the use of this most fundamental human faculty.

In other words, libertarianism can be justifiably regarded as the only logically consistent form of freedom-based egalitarianism - the only philosophy in which liberty and equality constitute their logically necessary, mutually beneficial complements, the crucial bridge between the two being private property, especially as defined in the principle of self-ownership.

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