29 May 2014

Some Virtuous Libertarians

Go here, here, and here for previous posts on the limitations of libertarian political theory. I also observed here that thoughtful libertarians like Randy Barnett have worked to fill the gap between "freedom from" government control and "freedom to" do the good.

What's problematic for libertarian political theory is equally if not more so the case with respect to neo-classical economics. I've written an article that you can download here in which I explain why welfare maximization, the economic equivalent of political libertarianism, is insufficient to justify state action to remedy breach of contract.

Here are links to two pieces that situate economic liberty in a social context. In other words, that order economic (and, by extension, political) liberty to virtue. The first (and shorter) was written by the late Paul Heyne and posted by Jordan Ballor at The Acton Institute and is titled "Limitations of the Economic Way of Thinking." I highly recommend it for a concise explanation of the difference between price and value. (A difference that doctrinaire neo-classical economists deny.)

My second recommendation is a longer journal article authored by Luigino Bruni and Robert Sugden: "Reclaiming Virtue Ethics for Economics" that you can download here. Rather dense but worthwhile.

Libertarianism has an innate appeal to well-off folks. Communitarian political thought appeals to those who realize there's more to life than getting and keeping more and more. Applying what we know to be true of the human condition--that it is social and that desire must be ordered to the good-- goes a long way toward meliorating some of libertarianism's Ayn-Randian edges and providing a nexus between freedom and justice.

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