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Facebook Post on Essential Women of Liberty Book

I posted on Facebook about a new book, The Essential Women of Liberty [pdf] which includes 10 profiles including that of Deirdre McCloskey, formerly Donald. The editor, Aeon Skoble, a former friend, has now defriended me as have some other longtime friends/acquaintances. Oh well. Their loss. I’m not backing down.

In case Facebook censors the post, I am reproducing it below: [continue reading…]

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LIBERTARIAN ANSWER MAN TIME

A high school student sent me a question. Here’s my dashed-off reply:

On Thu, Apr 21, 2022 at 4:21 PM E wrote:

Hey Mr. Kinsella, I’ve found myself very interested in your works concerning argumentation ethics. I find myself pretty convinced of it, but I do have a few questions about it. I think I have a hang-up on particularistic norms, and their invalidity.

Your justification seems to be that when two agents are engaging in argumentation, they (prima facie) assume some common, morally relevant quality which is sufficient to grant self ownership to both of them. If they posit another property (such as only people with brown eyes have rights), they have to demonstrate how it is grounded in the nature of things.
Well the point is this. Proponents in discourse, since it is an inherently peaceful activity (you are trying to persuade each other by the force of argument alone; you are not coercing each other; which means there is an implicit agreement to agree to disagree if necessary) and it’s also inherently a practical activity involving living human beings with corporeal bodies in a world of scarcity– do presuppose the validity of peace and of each other’s ability to survive and control their own bodies, which implies self-ownership (control of their bodies) as well as the right to acquire external resources by homesteading and contract (otherwise neither one would be alive since you need to do this to survive). In other words, each participant in argumentation presupposes HE is a self-owner and has the right to acquire property rights in scarce resources by homesteading. All we know ab initio is that each person in the argument is more or less equally situated: each participant is roughly similar in relevant respects to the other; otherwise he would not be arguing with the other, he would treat the other as an animal or mere means. By engaging in discourse you necessarily regard the other as a fellow participant in discourse, that is, he has similar capacities as you have. So since you maintain that you have your natural body and property rights — it must be by virtue of your nature, your capacities; and thus, since the initial assumption is that both parties have similar natures and capacities, the guy claiming rights for himself by virtue of his nature, must grant that the other guy has similar rights by virtue of HIS nature.
If you want to claim rights for yourself and DENY rights to the other person, the burden of arguing is on you to show (a) what about your nature it is exactly that gives you rights, and (b) what about your opponent is different to justify treating him differently. That is, justice means treating likes alike and not treating unalikes alike. So you need to show a relevant difference. The difference must be both objectively (or intersubjectively) demonstrable AND relevant. So for example you could say I have rights and you don’t because I am 6′ tall and you are only 5′ tall. This is an objective difference grounded in the nature of things, but it is not a relevant difference. It is not relevance since you have not shown that you have rights because of your height. If you can show this, show it. Until you do, it’s just an “arbitrary” distinction, which is to say, it’s particularistic–“I have rights because I’m me and you don’t because you are not me”; that is, it’s not universalizable and it’s not a type of reason given that could possibly appeal to all potential participants in discourse. In other words, that is to say, it’s not a reason at all. The entire purpose of the universalizability requirement is *to give reasons*. Particularistic “reasons” are simply not.
By the way, suppose someone is burglarized my home and threatening or trying to harm my family, and i catch and subdue him until we can take the next step in whatever justice system is extant. During that time I could have a discourse with him and I would be claiming rights for myself but denying rights for him. But I can ground it in objective, relevant facts–namely, HE USED AGGRESSION AGAINST ME. That is an objective fact and a relevant one that justifies me treating him differently. Again, justice means treating like alike but it permits and even can require treating unalikes by different rules. (This answers the stupid “well slaveowners can argue with their slaves” “counterexample” by some of Hoppe’s critics; if the enslavement is unjust, then the slave owner is contradicting himself by claiming rights and denying them to the slave, since the distinction is based on arbitrary, particularistic “reasons”; but if you have justly enslaved someone as a result of some incapacitation or punishment for a crime they committed, you can in fact point to a relevant difference between you and the slave.)
As for the rest, read the above and let me know if you have further. Have you read into Hoppe’s own work on this and my elaborations? If not, you should, then come back to me.
E.g.,
You should read through these to make sure you have covered what’s out there, and then come back to me with any further quesitons.
SK
I am a bit confused about two things:
1) Why the since-then norm being presupposed in argumentation only includes what is presupposed in the universal category of argumentation, as opposed to what is presupposed in the particular instance of argumentation. Essentially, why is that the prima facie assumption?
2) Wouldn’t the difference of the additional property be morally relevant if it’s the only reason that one of the agents agrees to argumentation? For example, if I say that I will only argue with you if you have brown eyes (and I will initiate force against people without brown eyes), wouldn’t that be a morally relevant difference, since it is the only reason I am granting you self-ownership?
I feel like I’m missing something and I couldn’t really find anything on it, so I’m just wondering.
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Lançamento do livro A Grande Ficção, de Hans-Hermann Hoppe” [Permalink: https://perma.cc/2U28-WPJ8], “Afterword,” in Hans-Hermann Hoppe, The Great Fiction: Property, Economy, Society, and the Politics of Decline (Laissez Faire Books, 2012) and “Afterword” [PDF] (Second Expanded Edition, Mises Institute, 2021).

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International Law, Libertarian Principles, and the Russia-Ukraine War

by Stephan Kinsella

Free Life, 19 April 2022

In a discussion with some fellow libertarians about the current Russia-Ukraine war, I noticed some of them kept avoiding condemning Russia’s invasion, criticizing pro-Ukraine western media and state propaganda, and kept changing the subject to the baleful role the US and NATO have played. NATO should have disbanded after the Cold War ended; NATO is “provoking” Russia, and so on. “Of course Russia doesn’t want NATO on its doorstep and perceives it as a threat; how would the US feel if Russia were to position missiles in Canada?” And so on. They didn’t come right out and take Russia’s side, but I have seen some people literally defend Russia and claim it is simply defending itself from aggression from the US/NATO and Ukraine or via Ukraine, and, moreover, that Russia is exercising heroic restraint in an attempt to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damages. Read more>>

Permalinked at https://perma.cc/9KX6-QKNW

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Stateless Justice: A Response to Mario Demolidor (2020)

Back in 2019 one Mario Demolidor asked me to field some questions. I replied to one of them at length. It was:

1) People often dislike libertarianism because they do not see how a fully contracted private justice system can work. So, I ask, how can we deal in a libertarian society with criminals or suspects who deny justice and make no contracts to elect a judge? How to get them to trial?

I have just been made aware that he later published an edited and rearranged version of my responses at Stateless Justice | By: Stephan Kinsella (March 10, 2020). I reprint his article below in case his is ever lost (this happens all the time), and append after it my original emailed response to him (unedited) for completeness and in case there are any errors or omissions from his version (I have not checked). [continue reading…]

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Wenzel the Werewolf

Bob “Werewolf” Wenzel

This libertarian movement of ours has its fair share of drama, crazy stories, eccentric personalities, losers, weirdos, and so on. I’ve been involved since the late 80s,1 so have seen my fair share of this bullshit.

I just heard Murray Sabrin, on a fairly recent episode of the Tom Woods podcast (ep. 1988), speak positively about the late Bob Wenzel of “Economic Policy Journal” (sic, as it wasn’t a “journal”; it was just a clickbaity blog) as being the rare person who could give financial and investment advice from an Austrian perspective.

Robert “Bob” Wenzel, Raymond Nize, or whatever his real name was

(You’ll note I said “late.” Bob, or whatever his real name was, allegedly died last year. See David Gordon, “Robert Wenzel, RIP” (May 27, 2021); Robert Wenzel – 1957 to 2021; Taylor Lewis, “Rest in Peace, Robert Wenzel” (June 12, 2021); Walter Block, “Bob Wenzel, RIP” (June 1, 2021); Daniel McAdams, “Robert Wenzel, RIP” (May 26, 2021). I say “allegedly” and express skepticism that Bob Wenzel was his real name for reasons that will become apparent below.)

[continue reading…]

  1. See How I Became A Libertarian, December 18, 2002, LewRockwell.com [in I Chose Liberty: Autobiographies of Contemporary Libertarians (compiled by Walter Block; Mises Institute 2010)]. Supplementary material:  “Faculty Spotlight Interview: Stephan Kinsella,” Mises Economics Blog (Feb. 11, 2011) [archived]. []
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Property and Justice: An OLL Book Discussion

Interesting discussion re a new book from Billy Christmas, whom I also published in Libertarian Papers: “The Possibility of Thick Libertarianism” (2016), the abstract of which is:

Abstract: The scope of libertarian law is normally limited to the application of the non-aggression principle (NAP), nothing more and nothing less. However, judging when the NAP has been violated requires not only a conception of praxeological notions such as aggression, but also interpretive understanding of what synthetic events count as the relevant praxeological types. Interpretive understanding—or verstehen—can be extremely heterogeneous between agents. The particular verständnis taken by a judge has considerable moral and political implications. Since selecting a verständnis is pre-requisite to applying the NAP, the NAP itself cannot tell us which one we ought morally to choose. Therefore the application of the NAP calls on moral and political considerations outside of the NAP itself. Since some of these are more consistent with an endorsement of the NAP than others, libertarianism is not a “thin” commitment to the NAP alone, but a “thick” commitment to the NAP and other supporting moral and political considerations.”

[continue reading…]

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On the UN, the Birchers, and International Law

In a recent tweet, I said:

I’m continually puzzled at the hatred some lowbrow libertarians have for the UN and international law. Did they miss the “we are not Birchers” memo?

I got the expected flack. Including a private comment from a friend I respect who said, in essence:

There is nothing good about the UN and nothing bad about the Birchers. The UN is funded by fiat inflation and tax dollars. It’s not a voluntary organization. It’s built on theft. How can a libertarian find that anything but criminal?

[continue reading…]

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