The Problem of Authority
by Michael Huemer
Michael Huemer advances two broad theses: First, we should judge government actions using precisely the same standards that we commonly employ in judging individuals’ actions; governments and their agents get no special moral status. Second, he suggests that a society without a monopoly government might not be as different different as is sometimes imagined. Those who fear corporate power should question whether government, which bears a striking resemblance to an especially large, ill-behaved, and overbearing corporation, can ever be a vehicle for social justice.
Plausible Libertarianism: Philosophy, Social Science, and Huemer
by Bryan Caplan
Bryan Caplan praises Michael Huemer’s work on the problem of political authority because it avoids the extremes of both rights-based and consequentialist reasoning. Each has notoriously foundered on difficult problems in the past, as is well-known to students of political philosophy. Huemer instead resorts to commonly shared moral intuitions, thus establishing a strong foundation for his still quite radical libertarian politics.
Moral Philosophy, Obligation, and Some Concerns
by Tom G. Palmer
Tom G. Palmer suggests two areas where Huemer’s argument may need elaboration. First, he suggests that a monopolistic government authority may indeed be necessary at times in order to solve coordination problems. Rules can help coordinate behavior, but they can only do so if nearly everyone knows about them and follows them. Second, Palmer suggests that the intuitionist method may only be of limited use, as people in other times and places will not share the common intuitions of present-day westerners. If we are to make the case for human liberty, we need to make the case to them as well.
Authority is Not the (Only) Problem: People Have Positive as Well as Negative Rights
by Nicole Hassoun
Nicole Hassoun makes the case for positive rights. Without adequate water, food, and health care, questions of consent cannot be reached in the first place. A government that does not help all its citizens to secure these things is not one we could ever reasonably consent to. Somalia suggests that in the real world, anarchy can be horrible. Pre-tax income is not a thing we own as a property right; it is simply an accounting figure. These conclusions, she argues, follow from common sense.
- Some Opening Replies: Coordination, Intuition, and Positive Rights by Michael Huemer
- Response to a Response: Intuitions and Conventions by Tom G. Palmer
- The Case of Murder by Bryan Caplan
- The Rights of the World’s Poor: A Reply to Hassoun by Bryan Caplan
- Reply to Caplan: On Negative Rights, Individual Action, and Liberalization by Nicole Hassoun
- What’s Missing in The Problem of Political Authority by Bryan Caplan
- Arguments vs. Wisdom in Political Philosophy: Principle vs. Practice by Nicole Hassoun
- Some Thoughts on Inequality of Wealth and the Moral Claims We May Make on Each Other by Tom G. Palmer
- Positive Rights and Poverty: What They Suggest and Imply by Bryan Caplan
- Some Further Unaddressed Points: Authority, Anarchy, and Positive Rights by Michael Huemer
- A Reply to Palmer and Caplan by Nicole Hassoun
- Making Progress? by Nicole Hassoun
- Response to Huemer on Authority and Hassoun on Poverty and Redistribution of Property by Tom G. Palmer
- Three Notes on Positive Rights by Michael Huemer
- A Few Final Remarks on Huemer and Palmer by Nicole Hassoun