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A Libertarian Theory of Punishment and Rights

Note: Updated and revised version included as chap. 5 of Legal Foundations of a Free Society (Houston: Papinian Press, 2023).


“A Libertarian Theory of Punishment and Rights,” Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 30, no. 2 (Jan. 1997): 607–45. Loyola version; PDF (my scan); text version with italics and some formatting missing.

This article is similar to “Punishment and Proportionality: The Estoppel Approach, J. Libertarian Stud. 12, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 51–73. It builds on and expands the analysis in my earlier “Estoppel: A New Justification for Individual Rights,” Reason Papers No. 17 (Fall 1992): 61–74. See also “The Genesis of Estoppel: My Libertarian Rights Theory” (Mar. 22, 2016).

An updated and revised version will be included as chap. 5 of Legal Foundations of a Free Society (Houston, Texas: Papinian Press, 2023). This chapter is based on the 1997 Loyola Los Angeles Law Review article, but also incorporates some material from the 1996 JLS version that was not present in the Loyola piece. The current draft of chapter 5 is here: LFFS ch 5 draft – PDF.

Errata may be found here.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Dave February 13, 2022, 12:48 pm

    “ Any person arguing long enough to deny that truth is the goal of discourse contradicts this denial because that person is asserting or challenging the truth of a given proposition.”

    This does not follow. One may refute a general statement by giving a counterexample. If the opponents of truth as the goal of discourse were arguing that “no one ever engages in discourse with discovering truth as their goal,” then their own actions would provide a self-refuting counterexample. But this is not necessarily what they assert. They could instead claim that “sometimes persons participate in discourse for purposes other than discovering truth.” This specific thesis can survive the existence of any number of counterexamples. So while that claim could be mistaken, it is not self-refuting.

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