The Ethics of Liberty

Overview

In recent years, libertarian impulses have increasingly influenced national and economic debates, from welfare reform to efforts to curtail affirmative action. Murray N. Rothbard's classic The Ethics of Liberty stands as one of the most rigorous and philosophically sophisticated expositions of the libertarian political position.

What distinguishes Rothbard's book is the manner in which it roots the case for freedom in the concept of natural rights and applies it to a host of ...

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Overview

In recent years, libertarian impulses have increasingly influenced national and economic debates, from welfare reform to efforts to curtail affirmative action. Murray N. Rothbard's classic The Ethics of Liberty stands as one of the most rigorous and philosophically sophisticated expositions of the libertarian political position.

What distinguishes Rothbard's book is the manner in which it roots the case for freedom in the concept of natural rights and applies it to a host of practical problems. An economist by profession, Rothbard here proves himself equally at home with philosophy. And while his conclusions are radical—that a social order that strictly adheres to the rights of private property must exclude the institutionalized violence inherent in the state—his applications of libertarian principles prove surprisingly practical for a host of social dilemmas, solutions to which have eluded alternative traditions.

The Ethics of Liberty authoritatively established the anarcho-capitalist economic system as the most viable and the only principled option for a social order based on freedom. This edition is newly indexed and includes a new introduction that takes special note of the Robert Nozick-Rothbard controversies.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In his new introduction to this current edition of this classic in the field originally published in 1982 (Humanities Press), Hoppe (economics, U. of Nevada, Las Vegas<-->as was the late author) extols Rothbard's marriage of the "value-free" science of economics with the normative enterprise of ethics and their offspring: libertarianism. Discussion areas are: natural law, a theory of liberty, the state vs. liberty, modern alternative theories of liberty, and toward a theory of strategy for liberty. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814775066
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1998
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

The author of numerous books, the late Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995) was the S. J. Hall Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Academic Vice President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe is Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Acknowledgments
Preface
Pt. I Introduction: Natural Law
1 Natural Law and Reason 3
2 Natural Law as "Science" 9
3 Natural Law versus Positive Law 17
4 Natural Law and Natural Rights 21
5 The Task of Political Philosophy 25
Pt. II A Theory of Liberty
6 A Crusoe Social Philosophy 29
7 Interpersonal Relations: Voluntary Exchange 35
8 Interpersonal Relations: Ownership and Aggression 45
9 Property and Criminality 51
10 The Problem of Land Theft 63
11 Land Monopoly, Past and Present 69
12 Self-Defense 77
13 Punishment and Proportionality 85
14 Children and Rights 97
15 "Human Rights" As Property Rights 113
16 Knowledge, True and False 121
17 Bribery 129
18 The Boycott 131
19 Property Rights and the Theory of Contracts 133
20 Lifeboat Situations 149
21 The "Rights" of Animals 155
Pt. III The State Versus Liberty
22 The Nature of the State 161
23 The Inner Contradictions of the State 175
24 The Moral Status of Relations to the State 183
25 On Relations Between States 189
Pt. IV Modern Alternative Theories of Liberty
26 Utilitarian Free-Market Economics 201
A Introduction: Utilitarian Social Philosophy 201
B The Unanimity and Compensation Principles 203
C Ludwig von Mises and "Value-Free" Laissez Faire 206
27 Isaiah Berlin on Negative Freedom 215
28 F.A. Hayek and The Concept of Coercion 219
29 Robert Nozick and the Immaculate Conception of the State 231
Pt. V Toward a Theory of Strategy for Liberty
30 Toward a Theory of Strategy for Liberty 257
Bibliography 275
Index 295
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Book, Horrible Introduction

    <i>The Ethics of Liberty</i> by Murray N. Rothbard is a great book.

    The introduction thereto, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, however, is horrible.

    The book itself approaches libertarianism from a natural law standpoint. It holds that every thing in the universe has a nature, and that humans are not exempt from this. Since humans naturally must have a nature, it is not inappropriate to study this nature.

    Dr. Rothbard recognises that since it is within the nature of every human to be the sole controller of her or his own will, and since the will is inalienable from the human body, it stands to reason that every individual is sovereign, or, in other words, every person is a self-owner, and that ownership of humans by other humans is therefore naturally unjust. In short, slavery is unjust because it violates individual sovereignty, otherwise known as self-ownership.

    But chattel slavery is not the only violation of natural law. In fact, any action that infringes upon another person's natural right to self-ownership is necessarily unjust, including rape, murder, physical assault, and usurpation of justly-acquired property.

    Rothbard laws it all out with breathtaking clarity and reason. While I do not agree with Rothbard on every subject covered in this book, the vast, vast majority of it is, in my opinion, convincingly persuasive.

    The biggest problem with this book is the introduction by Dr. Hoppe, who, because of his more-conservative-oriented approach to libertarianism, calls Rothbard's viewpoint fundamentally conservative. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would love to see a new edition of this book published, one with an introduction by Rodick T. Long instead of Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Dr. Long, I am sure, would never make the <i>faux-pas</i> of calling Rothbard, and his wonderful radicalism, "conservative."

    If you are interested in natural law philosophy or the philosophy of ethics, then I would recommend this book to you, even if you are not a libertarian. If you are a libertarian, and you wish to deepen your understanding of the philosophy, especially as it applies to just and unjust law, I would also recommend this book to you.

    If, on the other hand, you are looking for a general introduction to libertarianism or market anarchism, I would <i>not</i> recommend this to you. I would first recommend either (1) <i>Libertarianism in One Lesson</i> (tenth edition) by David Bergland, (2) <i>For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto</i> by Murray N. Rothbard, or (3) <i>The Market for Liberty</i> by Linda & Morris Tannehill.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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