On What Basis Liberty? Part 3: Non-Aggression

non-aggression-222And all this brings us naturally to our final post on the two basic principles of libertarianism: the non-aggression principle.

Incidentally, I’ve already explained this in the previous two posts. This post will merely offer a tidy conclusion and clarification.

If people have a right to themselves—a right to life and property—then it naturally falls that nobody has a right to take these away from them. See? I’ve already made this argument. You could look at it in reverse, as well. If nobody is given a right to deprive someone of their life or property, then this forms the basis of property rights. This is a rather unnecessary, in my opinion, chicken or egg argument. Either way carries the same circular implications.

This is what is called the “non-aggression principle”: nobody has a right to arbitrarily aggress against another person, that is to say, initiate aggression (defined as force or the threat of force) against an otherwise peaceful person. I cannot take my neighbor’s truck, or lawnmower, or life. I cannot force him to mow my lawn. I cannot randomly knuckle-punch him just because I am angry.

(Note that there is a qualifier: you should not initiate force against an otherwise peaceful person. To claim that liberty never allows for aggression is inaccurate. There are allowances for self-defense, as well as the defense of the victims of aggression. This is only logical.)

And this is exactly why libertarianism is rooted in ethics. The non-aggression principle is an ethical principle.

Matt Kibbe puts it in the simplest terms: “Don’t hurt other people and don’t take their stuff.”

It’s the basics of elementary school. It’s what we all learned as kids. It doesn’t go away as adults. At least, it shouldn’t.

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2 Responses to On What Basis Liberty? Part 3: Non-Aggression

  1. Daniel Noble says:

    Loving this chain of blog posts. Really clear explanations of the concepts of libertarianism. I like the quote you have from Jason Stapleton but I think that phrase is more often credited to the book “Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff” by Matt Kibbe.

    • L.C.Keagy says:

      I’m glad to know where the credit is due; thanks. I will get that credit updated soon in the post. And thanks also for the affirmation! I really appreciate that.

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