Climate change and the strange death of libertarianism

It wasn’t that long ago that everyone was talking about the “libertarian moment” in the US. Now, libertarianism/propertarianism is pretty much dead. The support base, advocacy groups and so on have gone full Trumpists, while the intellectual energy has shifted to “liberaltarianism” or, a more recent variant, Tyler Cowen’s conversion to “state capacity libertarianism“.

Most of those departing to the left have mentioned the failure of libertarianism to handle climate change. It was critical for two reasons. First, any serious propertarian response would have required support ofr the creation of new property rights (emissions permits) and the restriction of existing ones (burning carbon). That would imply an acknowledgement that property rights are not natural relations between people (owners) and things (property). They are socially constructed relationships between people, allowing some people to use things and to stop other people from doing so. Second, the effort to deny the necessary implications of climate change inevitably resulted in denial of the scientific evidence that climate change was occurring. That contributed to a situation where most former libertarians are now Trumpists, happy to deny the evidence of their own eyes if that’s what the leader requires of them.

I’m working on a longer article spelling all this out. In the meantime, comments welcome.

35 thoughts on “Climate change and the strange death of libertarianism

  1. Re Tyler Cowen, is the mentality he described what bred the mindset now dominant at the ABC and the PM’s press office?

    I suppose I should not have read this after viewing a tv segment on the mining lobby, then reading some thing about Pentecostalism somewhere else, all I see now are rapturous people joyfully proclaiming velvet worms to be mountain goats.

    I feel ill. Can’t God just flip me up and transport me to a less asylum-like planet?
    Fascism rules and the death of the brain is at hand, but the sophisticated denialist gymnastic of minds intent insisting black is white retains a morbid fascination.

  2. It has long struck me that the support base of libertarianism has always been motivated by certain ressentiments (not least against women) than by any articulated world view about freedom, limited government, property rights, markets, etc. Their conversion to Trumpism entails making explicit the affective basis of their politics.

    The people with the intellectual energy seem to be engaging in the same sort of honest intellectual journey, albeit from the opposite direction, that the more intelligent among the socialist left began embarking on 40 years ago when it became clear that a feasible and sustainable economy in a complex society had to include a significant role for markets.

  3. Maybe I’m not reading it right, but this doesn’t seem to work: “Second, the effort to deny this inevitably result in denial of the scientific evidence that climate change was necessary”

  4. Maybe I’m not reading it right but this doesn’t seem to work: “Second, the effort to deny this inevitably result in denial of the scientific evidence that climate change was necessary.”

  5. John, a very important issue. Of course, a major reason why the Libs like Morrison are so dedicated to climate denialism is because saying and acting otherwise will destroy their small-government low-tax ideology. It will require government projects of a dimension they are not prepared to consider. They were able to strangle the NBN on the quiet and they obviously hate the NDIS. That’s how they think. They will not change. They are a political species too stupid to adapt.

  6. paul walter says: “but the sophisticated denialist gymnastic [games] of minds intent insisting black is white retains a morbid fascination.”

    Here for your morbid fascination PW… (posted to Tolerance Aceptance also)

    Basic Game
    Importance Game 
    Leveling Game
    Self Effacing Rule and
    Persuade or Be Persuaded

    “Who Wants to Play the Status Game?
    by Agnes Callard

    “A player of the Importance Game tries to ascend high enough to reach for something that will set her above her interlocutor, a player of the Leveling Game reaches down low enough to hit common ground. The former needs to signal enough power to establish a hierarchy; the latter enough powerlessness to establish equality.

    “The advanced games really are advanced, in the sense of being harder to play than the Basic Game. This is due to the fact that one must, while playing them, also pretend not to be playing them

    …”It is much easier to mock others for engaging in the Importance Game and the Leveling Game than to acknowledge one is doing it. Jockeying for position and fishing for empathy offer up such twisted, ugly versions of the philosophical ideas of virtue and equality that we could not stand to engage in them for long, were we not shielding our eyes from what we are doing. And that, I think, is what ultimately explains the Self-Effacing Rule.”
    https://thepointmag.com/examined-life/who-wants-to-play-the-status-game-agnes-callard/#

    Persuade or Be Persuaded
    by Agnes Callard in Politics

    “This is the fifth in a series of columns on public philosophy by Agnes Callard; read more here.

    …”Because “Socratic civility” takes refutation as its modus operandi, it makes people angry. People felt hurt and disrespected by what Socrates did to them, and eventually they killed him for it. One might argue, against Socrates, that it is more truly civil to live and let live.

    “The problem comes when you can’t: Abortion. Universal health care. Immigration. Taxation. Facebook privacy. Sexism. Racism. Transphobia. Prisons. Poverty. Education. Unions. When one of our perspectival differences becomes a load-bearing political question, the idea of agreeing to disagree doesn’t work anymore. If each of us accepts that at the end of the day we cannot change one another’s minds, and each of us also thinks that in this casethings must go my way, we are in quite a bind.

    “That is the bind I’m in. I’ve been called upon by the union to cancel class to accommodate the strike. But, as I see it, that would amount to using educational harms to undergraduates as an instrument to achieve graduate students’ ends. Such an action seems immoral to me, for reasons articulated by Immanuel Kant: you are not allowed to use people merely as a means. But what if I am wrong? What if my perspective is incorrect? Emails from many students convince me that they are torn, as well. I thought: let us approach this philosophically, by gathering in a classroom, some evening this week, and debating the ethics of striking.”…
    https://web.archive.org/web/20190630133041/https://thepointmag.com/2019/politics/persuade-or-be-persuaded-agnes-callard

  7. Our local anarcho capitalist libertarian think tank recommemds reading;-

    “The Institute of Public Affairs, a libertarian think tank located in Australia, included The Machinery of Freedom in a list of the “Top 20 books you must read before you die” in 2006.[3]

    “Liberty magazine named the book among The Top Ten Best Libertarian Books, praising Friedman for tackling the problems related to private national defense systems and attempting to solve them

    “The Machinery of Freedom is a nonfiction book by David D. Friedman which advocates an anarcho-capitalist society from autilitarian/consequentialist perspective. ”
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Machinery_of_Freedom

    Lesson Two – the machinery of Freedom. How Libertarians work so well but fail so badly.

  8. “Most of those departing to the left have mentioned the failure of libertarianism to handle climate change.” – J.Q.

    The real elephant in the room is that capitalism and markets have failed to handle climate change. That is say, these systems have failed to take preemptive action in time and/or of a sufficient magnitude. The primary fault lies with the theory of value in conventional economics. The expected utility “calculations” of both the monied elites and the masses, most of whom in both classes are science illiterates, are really comprised of a mix of accounting axioms, rules of thumb, motivated reasoning and emotional thinking. The calculations are made in the numeraire (dollars usually) and this measure is not a scientific unit.

    How would we expect that this mess of accounting axioms, rules of thumb, motivated reasoning, emotional thinking and subjectively assigned values in a non-objective measurement unit would be the correct way to manage real quantities and decisions about real quantities? Money is not a measure of anything objective and it certainly is not a measure of value. Value is non-objective, that is subjective, and is by definition unmeasureable. Money is a measure, of (socioeconomic) power because it is instantiated as such by our customs and laws. Money (financial capital) is the power to dispose of resources within our socioeconomic or political economy power system. It does not measure anything real outside of this.

    The necessary evolution would be from economic management of the political economy to scientific management of the political economy BUT only for those parameters which can be scientifically measured. Thus the amount of CO2 emissions that a citizen is permitted, that a business, corporation or even government operation is permitted must be regulated according to the science. The amount of money a citizen wants to spend on item A versus item B (under overall scientific management of allowable emissions) would remain a decision for the citizen, albeit after ethical limits are put in place. To give a current example, neither item A nor item B is permitted to be a human slave or a concealable handgun (in Australia).

    Thus, the operation of markets must first be circumscribed by the setting of scientific standards and limits: what is scientifically permitted. Second, the operation of markets be circumscribed ethical limits: what is ethically permitted. Only in this final, somewhat limited arena ought markets be permitted to operate.

  9. I have been trying to make sense of the article written by Tyler Cowen. Here is my explanation, based on an old Eastern European joke.

    The difference between “state capacity libertarianism” and “libertarianism” is the same as between “socialist democracy” * and “democracy” which is the same as between an “electric chair” and a “chair”.

    (* “socialist democracy” in the sense still cultivated in North Korea, we had this stuff in a pure form between 1944-56 and in a more diluted until 1989, it had nothing to do with social-democracy which I am personally more fond of).

    Libertarianism in the “”propertarianist” sense was a handy propaganda tool to be used against the government when Democrats were in power. Now Obama is no longer a threat, Chairman Xi is. (Unless Warren or Sanders are nominated by the Democratic party, then we are back to (red) square one, “The red under my bed, trying to nationalise my heritage Harley Davidson bike in the name of decarbonising the economy”). Do we still remember “that one” about the debt ceiling crisis and the bankruptcy of the US just around the corner? Where are these fiscally conservative Republicans now? This shows how ideologically flexible they are.

    We should distinguish between a “serious” debate (even using flawed faith-based arguments) and everyday off-the-mill production of the propaganda machine. “Serious” ideologically-driven libertarians are mostly associated with the Austrian school of economics, not “Mercatus Centre”.

    The Austrian “axiomatic reasoning” can be stretch-reconciled with the idea of preventing global warming (obviously I reject this line of thought). A combination of mild denial of the urgency of the problem, total negativity towards any form of state control and the worship of the magic power of the markets will do. (Reference: Ryan McMaken, “Fear Global Warming? Markets Offer Our Best Chance for Survival”, mises.org)

    So what actually is the “state capacity libertarianism” ? In my opinion it is close to conservative liberalism, near the conservative end of the disorder spectrum. The state needs to protect our corporations against their corporations (which are controlled by CCP). (This word is absent from the Tyler Cowen’s article but modern capitalism is not about individuals, it is about corporations).

    Let me distinguish between 3 statements:
    1. It is an empirical fact that the emission of carbon dioxide and similarly acting gases is causing global warming on a significant scale, increasing the probability of catastrophic weather-related events.
    2. Global warming is a serious threat to me, my family, my society and the humanity as a whole
    3. All the necessary steps need to be undertaken immediately in order to halt the process of global warming

    Climate denialism “sensu stricto” is only linked with the negation of the first statement. In order to be a denialist in a wide sense, it is enough to negate statement #3 what might be a consequence of rejecting #2.

    The logic behind negating #2 can be “but there are more urgent problems” Please have a look at this graph:
    https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/18/a-look-at-how-people-around-the-world-view-climate-change/ft_19-04-18_climatechangeglobal_inmostsurveyedcountries_edited_2/

    People living in Israel understand #1 quite well but because they feel insecure (a risk of a war and terrorism in the region), they do not accept #2 as they see more serious threats to their wellbeing.

    The same logic is being (incorrectly) applied in the US (the economic threat from China to which a response is an increase in fracking to grow chemical industry in the US, etc)

    In order to reject #3 it is enough to strongly believe in the statement that “she will be all right” because of the inbuilt artificial intelligence of the free market. This is where libertarians have to apply a lot of blind faith – or have to go deeper into the denial of #2 and #1.

    Now the most depressing collection of graphs:
    https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/28/u-s-concern-about-climate-change-is-rising-but-mainly-among-democrats/

    These people who support Republicans have their own views about #1, #2 and #3. Trump is not a supply side problem. There is genuine demand for Trumpism in the US. Obviously marketing and brainwashing contribute to that demand. I really don’t know what can be done about it.

  10. @tgdavies As I said in the OP, the base (consisting mostly of entitled young white men who overrate their own intelligence) has gone for Trump and has no further need of intellectuals. Most of the interesting people at Cato have gone to Niskanen and points leftwards

  11. Cross-posted from Crooked Timber

    From the linked article at reason.com about Justin Amash:

    The influential DeVos family from Amash’s own district, which has been his second-biggest donor over the years and with whom his family has various longstanding relationships, announced last year that its days of officially supporting the hometown libertarian were over, too.

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that somebody wrote that sentence without mentioning that a member of the DeVos family is now a member of Donald Trump’s Cabinet?

  12. JQ: ” the base (consisting mostly of entitled young white men who overrate their own intelligence)”

    And who also have unresolved issues regarding their mothers and female primary school teachers, which rather than resolve they have sublimated into a political philosophy.

  13. @Paul @John

    Why this special hatred towards libertarians? Did a libertarian run over your dog? If it’s because they act inconsistently with their professed principles, well, they are hardly Robinson Crusoe on that score. If it’s because they affect the impression of being intellectually superior, again, that’s true of many different people who wear their political philosophies like a sandwich board.

  14. “A libertarian is someone who hasn’t got over the discovery that he is smarter than some of his schoolteachers.”

    Ha ha — cf also the overlap with the fanbase of Rick and Morty

  15. IME Libertarians are special mostly because of their influence over public life, politics and economics. They’re annoying largely because they’re inflexible when wrong, and because of their personal hypocrisy. It’s not unusual for people to double down when challenged, at least these days, but libertarians seem especially prone to grand political theories that collapse at the first hurdle.

    In Australia the classic is “property rights are key to everything” … “so Aboriginal Land Rights first, then” … “no, those don’t exist because … um…. {insert nonsense}”.

  16. Slightly off topic and surprisingly for this blog there has been no mention of Chile. Where for practical purposes Friedman’s libertarian students wrote into the constitution libertarian principles. To cut a long story short, the mass protests (I would qualify it as an uprising) were against an economic order that had left not only the poor but increasingly the middle classes facing an ever increasing uncertain future loaded with debts (privatised universities do charge a lot for not much). The outcome is that the current President has decided (under enormous pressure) to abolish the Pinochet era libertarian constitution to be replaced by something yet to be written. Surprisingly at the time not even Pinochet’s party defended the constitution (although that has now changed over the last four weeks). So one of the few examples of libertarian principles being put in practice results in a mass uprising.

  17. Auto-absolution is a common characteristic of libertarians and works well in the circumstances.

  18. It looks that Trump has now a clear path to victory precisely because of the “libertarian framing” which has been determined to be brain dead on this forum but is still “good enough” for Trump, while the Democrats have managed to repeat all the mistakes of the liberals in Central Europe, trying to frame political struggle as having something to do with the judicial system (“save the Constitution in Poland”, “impeach Trump in the US).

    Ordinary people in the US have guns to administer the justice and they hate lawyers who suck blood from anyone. (of course this is “Trumpian” framing, but it works).

    Who cares about the judges losing independence in Poland if enough people “know” that there is no justice if you have no money – just look at Jan Śpiewak vs Bogumiła Górnikowska-Ćwiąkalska. I tried to explain this to my friend who is a lawyer in Poland some time ago. It did not work. That’s why they will keep losing.

    Who cares about the impeachment in the US? The president of the US does not need the consent from Pelosi to run his foreign policy and digging dirt on Trump that he was digging dirt on Biden will not convince a guy from Rust Belt to switch to Democrats. Wasn’t Biden “objectively” more corrupt anyway? And in the Senate they have the numbers.

    Increasing polarisation switches off potential moderate liberals and switches on hardcore right-wingers. Anyone who wishes to beat the drum louder should notice this. Lawyers should stick to making money and appearing in TV reality shows like the Weinstein’s trial rather than teach “ordinary people” how they should think. “Ordinary people” hate being told how to think “properly”.

    (Pelosi met with Polish Senate speaker the other day, did she learn anything)?

    Below is the piece of Trump’s speech from Davos, NYT did not bother to quote the most important word (but was quoted by News Corps). This itself shows the depth of denial on the “liberal” side.

    #1 Trump carefully administrates (implicit) climate change denial,” the other side is (also) lying or made false predictions”

    “To embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial profits of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.”
    “They want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen,”
    “They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the 70s, and an end of oil in the 80s.”

    #2 Trump’s “call to action”. “The Red is under my bed” and we have to defend our “personal liberty” and
    so-called strong economy” – capitalism

    “They always want to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives. We will never let radical SOCIALISM destroy our economy and wreck our country or eradicate our LIBERTY.”

    Unless the Democrats unite, to the point of Biden and Sanders voluntarily withdrawing from the race (because there is enough “kompromat” on both of them), I can see Trump elected for another 4 years. Will the so-called civilisation survive on the so-called planet? Of course but it is increasingly likely that the Chinese will gain technological supremacy and that the climate and the biosphere will be damaged even more than in the “reference” scenario …

  19. One last thing. The “burden of proof” is on the side which is trying to make a point. If a “progressive” wants to influence an “ordinary person”, the worst thing to do is to speak the language of progressives.

    We need to speak the language of the target.

    It may need to be libertarian. Do we want the Chinese Communist Party to rule the world and control every citizen of the free world in the same way they control the Uighurs? No? So let’s win the technological race, what also involves massively investing in the renewables. Fracking was great but it only bought us a few years. (of course these are not my personal views but this could be an useful “meme”).

    Riding the anti-Adani bus to the area where miners live is a good example what must not be done. Telling people that the whole civilisation will collapse due to climate change is the best argument invented ever, supporting the claims made by climate change denialists that the whole thing is a hoax. Every time Hillary Clinton utters the words “sexism” and “mysogyny”, she permanently switches off a few male working-class voters and ensures that Donald Trump will be elected again. Every time Bernie says “socialism”, a kitten dies…

  20. It looks that Trump has now a clear path to victory

    When I read that, the message that comes through to me is this:
    ‘I would like to predict that Trump is going to win, but I lack the courage to commit myself to a definite prediction because I am too fearful of being proved wrong’.

    If it doesn’t mean that, what does it mean?

    Ordinary people in the US have guns to administer the justice

    When I read that, no clear message comes through to me at all.

    Who cares about the impeachment in the US?

    When I read that, the message that comes through to me is this:
    ‘I would like to assert that nobody cares about impeachment in the US, but I don’t dare, because I know it’s not literally true.’

    Wasn’t Biden “objectively” more corrupt anyway?

    No. There’s no basis for that conclusion.

    Unless what you mean by “objectively” is the opposite of objectively.

    “Ordinary people” hate being told how to think “properly”.

    What about ordinary people? Do they feel the same way as “ordinary people”? Also, do the people who hate being told how to think “properly” also hate being told how to think properly? Why are you obscuring your meaning with scare quotes?

    Unless the Democrats unite, to the point of Biden and Sanders voluntarily withdrawing from the race (because there is enough “kompromat” on both of them), I can see Trump elected for another 4 years.

    ‘I can see’ is another Claytons prediction.

    If Trump is re-elected, it won’t surprise me. If Trump is not re-elected, it won’t surprise me. I’m not pretending that I can predict the outcome, or trying to play games with Delphic language.

    We need to speak the language of the target.

    It may need to be libertarian.

    It is absolutely essential to speak the language of the target, if you are trying to persuade the target. It is rare that this will mean speaking the language of libertarians, because libertarians are rare.

    If you want to persuade me, you are going to have to use language that does not imply such a low opinion of my intelligence (that is, that I am unable to see through cheap rhetorical tricks).

  21. Dear J-D,

    Why the progressives / environmentalists have been unable to win elections, hold power long enough and implement any meaningful reforms in any major Western country over the last 30 years or so? One of the reasons might be they don’t know how to use cheap rhetorical tricks but obviously there might be more. Another issue might be treating ideas too seriously.

    I had a very similar discussion over 20 years ago in Poland. I was really sorry to hear a few years later that I had been right.

    Have you watched Ben Guerin at the Australian Libertarian Society’s Friedman Conference? (he starts at 32:10)

    This time I hope to be wrong.

  22. Why the progressives / environmentalists have been unable to win elections, hold power long enough and implement any meaningful reforms in any major Western country over the last 30 years or so?

    That question is another rhetorical trick, as unimpressive as the ones that came before.

    I had a very similar discussion over 20 years ago in Poland.

    I doubt that.

    Have you watched Ben Guerin at the Australian Libertarian Society’s Friedman Conference?

    No, I have not; I have no reason to do so.

  23. The BlackRock announcement is being felt through many jurisdictions.

    In particular, Fink observed that companies unable to provide evidence of emission compliance will be regarded as “not adequately managing risk.”

    According to NorthWestern Energy (South Dakota) they have their compliance in order.

    Shareholders have been pressing NWE on their 20% coal power generation, at present 61% of their energy is non carbon.

    BlackRock has identified shareholder activism as presenting both a risk and an opportunity.

    https://trib.com/business/energy/major-northwestern-shareholder-puts-companies-on-notice-regarding-climate-risk/article_d4867923-7094-5724-8325-20380d239cec.html

  24. Geez J-D. I’d love to attend your lectures, but a chat about a topic may be difficult with you.

    “‘I would like to predict that Trump is going to win, but I lack the courage to commit myself to a definite prediction because I am too fearful of being proved wrong’.”. Offer your prediction – citation? – or ask a qualifier. We are in a blog not in court or debate sophistry slagging 101.

    “If it doesn’t mean that, what does it mean?”. Good q.

    “If you want to persuade me, you are going to have to use language that does not imply such a low opinion of my intelligence (that is, that I am unable to see through cheap rhetorical tricks).”.

    So we have to win the debate. I’d need a dialogue as I don’t have a hi or low opinion of my intelligence and can navigate cheap rhetorical tricks – in dialogue. But if it is a debate J-D you’d be on my team.

  25. Adam K at 8:32 am

    “Increasing polarisation switches off potential moderate liberals and switches on hardcore right-wingers. Anyone who wishes to beat the drum louder should notice this.”

    Yes. Simple  Reactance.

    Good examples: ” Every time Hillary Clinton utters the words “sexism” and “mysogyny”, she permanently switches off a few male working-class voters and ensures that Donald Trump will be elected again. Every time Bernie says “socialism”, a kitten dies…”

    “Reactance is an unpleasant motivational arousal (reaction) to offers, persons, rules, or regulations that threaten or eliminate specific behavioral freedoms. Reactance occurs when a person feels that someone or something is taking away their choices or limiting the range of alternatives.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactance_(psychology)

  26. Geez J-D. I’d love to attend your lectures, but a chat about a topic may be difficult with you.

    As best I can judge from their reactions, sometimes people do find chats about topics with me to be difficult, but sometimes they don’t. Is that different from your experience?Offer your prediction …If you read my earlier comment, you will notice that I don’t pretend to be able to predict the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election. The last time I predicted the result of a US presidential election was in 1984. I was right then, but experience since has made me warier.

    I’ll go this far: the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor the election victory to the leader in the pre-election polls, but that’s the way to bet.

    We are in a blog not in court or debate sophistry slagging 101.

    I’m not sure whether it will surprise you to be informed that I was already aware of that. I’m not sure why you felt impelled to make this statement.

    So we have to win the debate.

    I wrote about what Adam K would have to do to persuade me, because Adam K raised the subject of what kind of language should be used to persuade people. But maybe Adam K has no interest in persuading me. He doesn’t have to respond to my comments at all if he doesn’t want to. There’s no reason why he should.

  27. I agree with most of the post, but I’m always suspicious of the claim that something (in this case property rights) has to be either “natural” or “socially constructed” and can’t be both. I think sensible libertarians understand completely that property rights (and indeed other rights as well) are in a sense socially constructed, but they would say there are facts about the world that make it preferable to construct them in one way rather than another.

    As a result, I think you can endorse a system of property rights in carbon emissions without giving up a basically libertarian account of property. The reason most libertarians haven’t done this, it seems to me, has more to do with contingent facts about American politics than with the logic of their philosophical position.

  28. I think sensible libertarians understand completely that property rights (and indeed other rights as well) are in a sense socially constructed, but they would say there are facts about the world that make it preferable to construct them in one way rather than another.

    Do they? Can you produce examples of sensible libertarians acknowledging that property rights are socially constructed?

    As a result, I think you can endorse a system of property rights in carbon emissions without giving up a basically libertarian account of property.

    Is there any system of property rights which would not be consistent with the observation that ‘property rights are socially constructed, but some ways of constructing them are preferable to others’? It’s hard to imagine anybody, libertarian or otherwise, who would not regard some ways of constructing property rights as preferable to others.

    The reason most libertarians haven’t done this, it seems to me, has more to do with contingent facts about American politics than with the logic of their philosophical position.

    It’s not clear what their philosophical position is, on your account. What kind of preference for one system of property rights over another is specifically libertarian, in your view?

  29. Thanks J-D. Briefly, not wanting to hijack the thread:
    (1) That view is explicit in David Friedman & those who take their cue from him, but it’s implicit in Cato-style mainstream libertarians and pretty much everyone outside the Rand and Rothbard groups.
    (2) Sure, but that’s just saying that libertarians are distinctive for the content of the rights they believe in rather than the metaphysics of what those rights are supposed to be – for their normative ethics rather than their metaethics, as philosophers would say. I agree with that.
    (3) Probably no two libertarians will agree on exactly what it is that’s specifically libertarian, but it’s at least a belief that property rights are strong & important – that they need to be taken very seriously and that they determine (or at least help to determine) a lot of moral or political choices. (Plus, of course, lots of other beliefs that aren’t about property at all.)

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