Friday, November 21, 2008

What are libertarianism, anyway? (Ken Gregg)

Wendy McElroy posted an excellent article by Ken Gregg that answers the question of "What is libertarianism?":

Let us suppose that an ichthyologist (fish scientist) is exploring the life of the ocean. He casts a net into the water and brings up a fishy assortment. Surveying his catch, he arrives at two generalizations:

(1) No sea-creature is less than two inches long;
(2) All sea-creatures have gills.

An onlooker may object: "There are plenty of sea-creatures under two inches long, only your net is not adapted to catch them."

The ichthyologist dismisses this objection contemptuously. "Anything uncatchable by my net is ipso facto outside the scope of ichthyological knowledge. In short, what my net can't catch isn't fish."

A more tactful onlooker makes a rather different suggestion: "May I point out that you could have arrived more easily at the same generalization by examining the net and the method of using it? The net can never bring up anything that it is not adapted to catch.

Indeed, there are many ichthyologists of libertarianism who claim that libertarianism is tied to: individualism, Austrian or Chicagoan economics, egoism, utopianism, nihilism, anarchism, a night-watchman state... Well, the list is innumerable.

Read the entire article

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