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My article “Argumentation Ethics and Liberty: A Concise Guide” was published in Mises Daily (May 27, 2011) (it includes “Discourse Ethics and Liberty: A Skeletal Ebook”). Below I note some relevant supplemental material that has been published since or that I have been made aware of that was not noted in the original article:


KOL167 | Speaking On Liberty (2012)

Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 167.

I was a guest in July 2012 on the Liberty Minded show Speaking on Liberty, discussing intellectual property. The hosts, Kyle Platt, Jason Lee Byas, and Grayson English, were very good and asked excellent questions. The show is here, and the video is embedded below.


KOL166 | Peter Schiff Show with Jeff Tucker: Patent Law (2012)

Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 166.

I was a guest back on June 6, 2012 on the Peter Schiff Show (guest host Jeff Tucker), discussing problems with patent law. The original audio file for the full show is here; my segment was from 1:00:55 to the end (about 20 minutes total). For the podcast feed I have included only my segment.


Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 165.

This is my Austrian AV Club Interview by Redmond Weissenberger, Director of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada, back from May 3, 2012. We had a long-ranging discussion of intellectual property and libertarian theory, including a discussion about exactly how Ayn Rand and other libertarians got off track on this issue, in part because of flaws regarding “labor” and “creationism” in Locke’s original homesteading argument; inconsistencies between Rand’s support for IP and her recognition that production means rearranging existing property; and also the different roles of scarce means and knowledge in the praxeological structure of human action. (For more on these issues, see my blog posts Locke on IP; Mises, Rothbard, and Rand on Creation, Production, and ‘Rearranging’, Hume on Intellectual Property and the Problematic “Labor” Metaphor, Rand on IP, Owning “Values”, and ‘Rearrangement Rights’, and The Patent Defense League and Defensive Patent Pooling, and my article “Intellectual Freedom and Learning Versus Patent and Copyright.”)

The video is below as well. (Trivia: I used my iPad, running the Skype app, for this interview. More stable and better camera than a MacBook.)

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Mises Academy Webinar: Stephan Kinsella addresses Obama's Patent Reform: Improvement or Continuing Calamity?Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 164.

Friday, Sep. 23, 2011, I conducted a Mises Academy Webinar discussing the America Invents Act, signed into law Sept. 16 2011 by President Obama. I discussed the webinar in a Mises Daily article, Obama’s Patent Reform: Improvement or Continuing Calamity? and discussed the AIA in further detail in The American Invents Act and Patent Reform: The Good, the Meh, and the Ugly.

In the webinar, I:

  1. summarized the basic problem with patent law from a free-market perspective;
  2. presented a series of real patent reforms that could make significant improvement in patent law (short of abolition);
  3. explained and critiqued the relevant changes made by the America Invents Act;
  4. briefly summarized other imminent IP legislation and treaties on the horizon; and
  5. responded to questions from attendees.

The slides used in the webinar are provided below.


KOL163 | CTIR Interview on Intellectual Property

Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 163.

I was interviewed yesterday by James Sirois of the Critical Thinking is Required podcast, episode 27. The shownotes are below:

Released: December 2, 2014      By: James

In CTIR Interview 27: Stephan Kinsella (Intellectual Property), I interview Stephan Kinsella about intellectual property. Specifically, we discuss copyright, trademark, patent, and trade secret law. Additionally, we analyze how these various types of law stifle innovation and competition.

Critical Thinking is Required is a political and educational podcast for individuals with endless curiosity.

Thank you for listening to CTIR. If you enjoyed the show, please share it with your friends.


Thank you Mevio’s Music Alley for providing license free music.

The intro and outro song is titled “Power Within Me” by Junga World.


http://www.stephankinsella.com/ http://mises.org/library/against-intellectual-property-0 http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/12/argument-preview-justices-will-use-rare-look-at-trademark-law-to-consider-broad-and-narrow-conceptions-of-trademarks/


Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 162.

Interview on IP and libertarianism by Fabrizio Sitzia, LibertariaNation.org (Italy) (April 15, 2012; recorded Feb. 23, 2012)

I was interviewed Feb. 23, 2012, by Fabrizio Sitzia of the Italian libertarian group LibertariaNation.org. It was posted on YouTube. We discussed intellectual property and related issues such as SOPA, plagiarism, IP-by-contract, and other libertarian issues such as prospects for liberty in the future; the importance of technology, the Internet, and globalism; Ron Paul and electoral politics; and libertarian sentiments and receptiveness among today’s young people. (See also Italian Libertarian IP Debate.)

More info at the LibertariaNation post Intervista a Stephan Kinsella (English translation from Google translate).

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Rothbard on Leonard Read and the Origins of “Libertarianism”

In a previous post I observed that modern libertarianism originated with the thought of Rand, Rothbard, Friedman, Hazlitt, and Read in the 1960s and 1970s (and that the term “libertarian” can perhaps be traced back to 1802). I’ve also argued that the key figure of modern libertarianism, ultimately, was Murray Rothbard, “Mr. Libertarian.”1 I still think this is right, but it’s interesting to note that in Rothbard’s journal Libertarian Forum, this distinction was bestowed upon Leonard Read in his obituary, in Vol. 17.5-6, May-June 1983, Rothbard (presumably it was Rothbard, as the editor), wrote:2

More than any other single person, Leonard was the founder of the modern libertarian movement. …

In addition, more than anyone else Read coined the name “libertarian” for the current movement. Before that, we had no single name, awkwardly going back and forth between “individualist” and “true liberals”. The problem with the latter phrase is that the quasi-socialists had already succeeded in appropriating the term “liberal”, and calling ourselves “true” anything was confusing and hardly persuasive. And the term “individualist” tended to confuse political philosophy with possessing a spirit of individual autonomy. Read and a few others launched the term “libertarian” for the freedom philosophy, and it stuck—the only case I know of when we were able to appropriate a word from others. For before that, communist-anarhcists had often referred to themselves as “libertarian.” The first time when we were referred to publicly as “libertarians” was in an odious book, published in the 1950’s, by a certain Ralph Lord Roy, entitled Apostles of Discord. There was a repellent literature in those days of works written by aggressive centrists and “moderates” who pilloried all “extremists” as per se evil. Roy, a Social Gospel Protestant, wrote his book to attack both Communist and ultra-rightist “extremists” in the Protestant church. That was par for the course in those days, but lo and behold! he included a chapter called “God and the ‘Libertarians'”, spotting quasi-anarchistic extremists then centered around a libertarian publication for Protestant ministers called Faith and Freedom.  Libertarianism had arrived on the American ideological scene.

Ironically, as Rothbard goes on to note, “In later years, Leonard Read drew away from the libertarian movement which he had named and founded.”


  1. Libertarianism After Fifty Years: What Have We Learned? (transcript). []
  2. The PDF and HTML versions of the journal are apparently down now, but .mobi and epub versions are available here. []

Below is an unedited (raw) transcript of my Yale speech “Balancing Intellectual Property Rights and Civil Liberties: A Libertarian Perspective,” available at KOL151. [click to continue…]


Below is an edited transcript of my presentation “Argumentation Ethics, Estoppel, and Libertarian Rights” delivered (by remote video) at the 6th Adam Smith Forum, Moscow, Russia (Nov. 2, 2014).

Video and audio for the speech, plus further information and related resources, are available at Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 161.


Argumentation Ethics, Estoppel, and Libertarian Rights 

Stephan Kinsella
6th Adam Smith Forum, Moscow, Russia
Nov. 2, 2014
(Edited transcript)

Hello. This is Stephan Kinsella. I am speaking today from Houston, Texas in the United States. I am happy to be able to present to the Adam Smith Forum and I appreciate the invitation to speak. I did speak here in 2011,1 remotely that time as well. I was unable to attend in person. And I hope to remedy that someday and to visit Moscow and Russia. But I appreciate the invitation.

Today’s topic will be on “Argumentation Ethics, Estoppel, and Libertarian Rights”. I have spoken and written on these topics before. More detail can be found in the notes to the podcast I will do of this lecture after the event. But if you want to follow up you can go to my website which is stephankinsella.com and I will have resources available there, primarily a previous Mises Academy course called “Libertarian Legal Theory” and also a course on the social theory of Hans-Herman Hoppe.2

So a brief introduction. I am an attorney in Houston, Texas. I am a long-time libertarian and follower of the Austrian School of Economics, primarily the thought of Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard and Hans-Herman Hoppe, and also have been an anarchist libertarian for quite some time. I have developed my own set of views about libertarian rights and related matters and that’s what the topic of today’s conversation will be. [click to continue…]

  1. KOL108 | “Why ‘Intellectual Property’ is not Genuine Property,” Adam Smith Forum, Moscow (2011).  []
  2. See:


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Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 161.

This was my (remotely delivered) presentation at the 6th Adam Smith Forum, Moscow, Russia (Nov. 2, 2014):

From the programme:

“Entitled “Argumentation Ethics, Estoppel, and Libertarian Rights,” Kinsella discusses the nature and definition of libertarianism and surveys different arguments and theories for its particular conception of rights and politics, including natural rights, consequentialist, and utilitarian approaches. He concludes with an overview of two more recent and unique approaches to justifying libertarian rights, the “argumentation ethics” approach of Austrian economist and political philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe, and Kinsella’s own “estoppel” theory of rights.”

This is my second speech at the Adam Smith Forum; the first was “Why Intellectual Property is not Genuine Property,” 3rd Adam Smith Forum, Moscow, Russia (Nov. 12, 2011), also via remote video. [click to continue…]


KOL160 | Bad Quaker on IP, Hoppe, and Immigration

Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 160.

I was on Ben Stone’s “Bad Quaker” podcast yesterday, episode 449. We discussed IP and then some of Ben’s previous comments on Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s views on immigration law.

Related links:


In the June 15, 1969 issue of The Libertarian Forum, in an article “Massacre at People’s Park,” Murray Rothbard writes:

The cry has gone up that all this was necessary to defend the “private property” of the University of California. In the first place, even if this little lot was private property, the bayoneting, gassing, torturing, and shooting of these unarmed park-developers would have been “overkill” so excessive and grotesque as to be mass murder and torture and therefore far more criminal than the original trespass on the lot. You do not machine-run [sic] someone for stealing an apple; this is punishment so far beyond the proportion that “fits the crime” as to be itself far more criminal than the original infraction. So that even if this property were legitimately private the massacre is still to be condemned.

Secondly, it is surely grotesquerie to call the muddy lot “private property”. The University of California is a governmental institution which acquires its funds and its property from mulcting the taxpayers. It is not in any sense private property then, but stolen property, and as such is morally unowned, and subject to the libertarian homesteading principle which we discuss below. The people of Berkeley were homesteaders in the best American—and libertarian—tradition, taking an unused, morally unowned, muddy lot, and transforming it by their homesteading labor into a pleasant and useful people’s park. For this they were massacred.

This has hints of the leftist and left-libertarian view of property rights—that if there is “taint” or “original sin” in the origin of title to current possessed resources, then the title is not legitimate, and the resource may be regarded as “unowned” and is legitimately subject to homesteading. Why something that is stolen is to be regarded as unowned, as opposed to owned by some dispossessed claimants and original owners, is not clear, and seems to contradict later writing by Rothbard.1

But in any case, later writing by Rothbard, as of 1974 at the latest, seems to reject any such implications. As I noted in my post Justice and Property Rights: Rothbard on Scarcity, Property, Contracts…, Rothbard published his article “Justice and Property Rights,” 1974, and in two forms: first, in Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays, which is available online here; and also, a second version, in Property in a Humane Economy, Samuel L. Blumenfeld, ed. (one of these versions, I can’t remember which, was included in The Logic Action One, which is not online). The two pieces seem identical but the latter version, from the Blumenthal collection, appends an important concluding paragraph that is not present in the earlier version:

It might be charged that our theory of justice in property titles is deficient because in the real world most landed (and even other) property has a past history so tangled that it becomes impossible to identify who or what has committed coercion and therefore who the current just owner may be. But the point of the “homestead principle” is that if we don’t know what crimes have been committed in acquiring the property in the past, or if we don’t know the victims or their heirs, then the current owner becomes the legitimate and just owner on homestead grounds. In short, if Jones owns a piece of land at the present time, and we don’t know what crimes were committed to arrive at the current title, then Jones, as the current owner, becomes as fully legitimate a property owner of this land as he does over his own person. Overthrow of existing property title only becomes legitimate if the victims or their heirs can present an authenticated, demonstrable, and specific claim to the property. Failing such conditions, existing landowners possess a fully moral right to their property.

It appears that language was added by Rothbard to combat the arguments of some, such as some left-libertarians, who want to argue that existing property titles are illegitimate because of their non-immaculate origins and, presumably, ought to be wrested from current nominal owners, especially the wealthy, and I suppose redistributed to the proles.

Or, as Rothbard wrote in ch. 9 of The Ethics of Liberty (1982):

To sum up, for any property currently claimed and used: (a) if we know clearly that there was no criminal origin to its current title, then obviously the current title is legitimate, just and valid; (b) if wedon’t know whether the current title had any criminal origins, but can’t find out either way, then the hypothetically “unowned” property reverts instantaneously and justly to its current possessor; (c) if wedo know that the title is originally criminal, but can’t find the victim or his heirs, then (cl) if the current title-holder was not the criminal aggressor against the property, then it reverts to him justly as the first owner of a hypothetically unowned property. But (c2) if the current titleholder is himself the criminal or one of the criminals who stole the property, then clearly he is properly to be deprived of it, and it then reverts to the first man who takes it out of its unowned state and appropriates it for his use. And finally, (d) if the current title is the result of crime, and the victim or his heirs can be found, then the title properly reverts immediately to the latter, without compensation to the criminal or to the other holders of the unjust title.2

I do not see a closely corresponding passage in For A New Liberty (1973) (I stand to be corrected on this), so it appears to me that sometime between 1969 and 1973, Rothbard’s thought on this matter developed.

See also the related thoughts of thinkers like Mises and Hoppe on this issue, as discussed in Mises, Rothbard, and Hoppe on the “Original Sin” in the Distribution of Property Rights.

  1. I’ll have to find this language; I forget where it is. []
  2.  But cf. some arguably inconsistent comments elsewhere in ch. 9, and also in ch. 10. []

Do Business Without Intellectual Property (Liberty.me, 2014)

Do Business Without Intellectual PropertyMy monograph Do Business Without Intellectual Property was released by Liberty.me earlier this year. The PDF file is here.

I release this material, insofar as legally possible (see Copyright is very sticky!), with a CC0 “no rights reserved” license.

The Table of Contents is listed below. A Liberty.met seminar discussion of these topics  is available at “Practical Solutions to the IP Trap.”

Table of Contents

  • WHAT IS IP? 5
    • First, Do No Harm 14
    • But While IP Exists … 15
    • To IP or Not to IP 16
    • Steps You Can Take Now 17
    • Music without Intellectual Property 21
    • Inventing without Intellectual Property 21
    • Dying without Intellectual Property 21
    • Patents 22

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