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Libertarianism - Essay Example

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This would mean that one's right to life simply imposes the obligation on others not to kill one, and the right to property imposes the obligation on others not to use any property that one justly acquire without one's permission. As a ramification of this stance, these libertarians hold that the only legitimate functions of the state are the enforcement of such rights and defense of the country from invasion. Taxation is to be outlawed on the grounds that it violates the right to property, and any laws and regulations must have as their sole raison d'etre only to enforce the rights of non-interference. Thus, libertarianism advocates a minimalist state which does nothing to interfere with the workings of a free market economy, save to protect people's rights. Illustratively, State regulations put in place with the intent of protecting the health and safety of workers would be repealed on the grounds that they are a violation of the freedom of contract (Hammerton, 2001).
Other libertarians uphold the perspectives of economist Friedrich August von Hayek. Hayek concluded that the rules of conduct in a society are evolving, that they survive because they are useful and help that society survive. To his mind, the free market had survived the test of time, in that most successful societies were market based in some way. Hayek considered free market capitalism to be superior to other economic systems because it handles human ignorance by passing information in coded form through the price mechanism, which indicates areas where profits could be made and resources efficiently used. Additionally, it allocates resources without being predicated on any specific objectives or assuming what the objectives of individual people are. It also facilitates freedom, in that for it to work there need to be rules demarcating "protected domains" for each person, where no other has the right to interfere. This facilitation manifests in private property rights. Hayek viewed strong property rights and the free market as the best way of protecting liberty. But, Hayek did not argue for the total abolishment of tax, or even that it should be restricted to law enforcement and defense. Hayek thought taxes, levied rightly, could be used for welfare-a kind of "bleeding heart libertarianism"-or to provide certain goods which the market might fail to adequately supply. However, in practice Hayek believed it would hardly ever be necessary to use taxes in this way, as the free market could always do it better (Hammerton, 2001).

Nozick's philosophy of entitlements and non-interference grew out of his reflections on the ideas of John Rawls. John Rawls spent most of his career seeking to better understand the foundations of the modern political state and the obligations of citizens to one another. He developed a few critical intellectual concepts, which he and his acolytes utilized to think in a fresh way about our civic obligations. One of those concepts was the now famous "veil of ignorance" behind which any person must situate himself in order to determine the proper responsibilities of citizens and the state. Behind a veil of ignorance, a person is stripped of the particulars of time, place, social status, inherited wealth, and happenstance of birth. Rawls considered all of ...Show more
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Summary

When we consider the ramifications for the State of restricting all considerations of justice to individual intention and self-ownership, we find ourselves considering Libertarianism. Libertarianism seeks to limit the central power of the State as severely as possible, leaving all or almost all matters of justice in the hands of individuals or extremely localized small groups of individuals…
Libertarianism
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