I mentioned a couple weeks ago that the Molinari Society would be meeting in New York at the APA Eastern Division meeting, and that the topic for the day was going to be the debate between thick and thin libertarianism. I was invited to comment on both of the essays, which I think went well, except for the inconvenience of having nowhere to print them out and therefore having to read them off of my laptop screen at the presentation; ah well. In any case, I’ve been asked to put my remarks online; they may not be the easiest thing in the world to follow if you haven’t read the essays I’m commenting on, for obvious reasons (if versions are posted on the Internet, I’ll link to them from here and from my remarks). But there is some material that might be of general interest, such as my discussion of the different ways in which a version of libertarianism might make demands for thick rather than thin commitments, and my discussion of the ways in which a libertarian labor movement ought to relate to the government (distinguishing depoliticized unions from anti-statist unions) and to other social justice movements (distinguishing thin unionism from thick unionism). In any case, here’s the links:

  • Remarks on Jan Narveson’s Libertarianism: the Thick and the Thin, in which I discuss Jan Narveson’s defense of libertarianism as a thinly moral doctrine and try to distinguish five different senses in which a version libertarianism might be said to be thick. (I said four in the remarks in spite of listing five; oops. I think because I did not count the first, entailment thickness, as a genuine form of thickness at all — since it merely amounts to saying that libertarians should, indeed, be libertarian.)

  • Remarks on Jack Ross’s Labor and Liberty, in which I discuss different takes on labor history and the prospects for reclaiming the tradition of pro-liberty, pro-labor radicalism.

Enjoy. Feel free to direct any comments on the remarks to me personally or to the backtalk section here.

Happy 2006, y’all.


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1 reply to Proceedings Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Lady Aster

    “Of course libertarianism has upshots for religious beliefs! It means you have to give up human sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli.”

    Well… technically only the involuntary sacrifices. It was known in Aztec society for people to voluntarily give themselves to human sacrifice.

    Besides, what about those “consequentialist” libertarians over at Liberty? I’d be a little worried about their views on the issue if they got some plausable evidence that the Sun was in danger of going out.

    Actually, I don’t think this is so silly. The Aztec rituals seem to me merely an extremely represented case of the standard patriarchal religious order which says than men must be burned throughout their lives alive in sacrifice and toil to maintain the edifice of civilization (and be especially honoured and established for it). The cult of the dying god and the worship and demand of dying man in his image is common in quite a number of religions, including some currently popular ones.

    A wise colleague of mine once suggested that it was in this consecration of dying for the cause that we all went wrong.

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