Category: Against Politics

Karl Popper’s authoritarian social technologies

Karl Popper is known for his influential contributions to the philosophy of science and critical rationalism.  Unfortunately, his attempt to apply critical rationalism to political philosophy produced writings of a more impatient and dubious nature. For example, in 1960 Popper wrote: ..the empiricist’s questions ‘How do you know? What is the source of your assertion?’ are wronglyRead More

The presumption of liberty

Perhaps no political philosopher has done as much painstaking work to review the legitimacy and need for political authority as Anthony de Jasay.  What makes de Jasay’s work stand out is his ability to engage with the technical arguments of political economists and philosophers without sacrificing common sense. For example, de Jasay understands the complications ofRead More


1. The Basic Thesis of Morals by Agreement In 1974 David Gauthier organized a Workshop on Contractarian Theory in Toronto, which I had the good fortune to attend. From that stemmed one of the relatively few cases I know of in which a philosopher actually was moved to change his mind on a major questionRead More


“The moral claims that each of us makes on others, and that are expressed in our rights, depend, neither on our affections for each other, nor on our rational or purposive capacities, as if these commanded inherent respect, but on our actual or potential partnership in activities that bring mutual benefit”. – David Gauthier SinceRead More


Jan Narveson (1936, Erskine, Minnesota, USA) is professor of philosophy at the University of Waterloo in Canada. He has published several hundred articles and reviews in many journals, mostly philosophical, mostly about ethics and politics, and several books, notably ‘The Libertarian Idea’ (1988, recently re-published in Canada by Broadview Press), ‘Moral Matters'(Broadview Press, 1993 and 1999), and aRead More


“…the arrogance of libertarians…in asserting the infallibility of their deductive systems is a match for the arrogance they denounce in efforts at socialist planning.”   Methodology General Books: Karl Popper – The Logic of Scientific Discovery Hutchinson, 1959 Milton Friedman – Essays in Positive Economics (online: chapter 1) University of Chicago Press, 1966 Jonathan Baron – ThinkingRead More


Morris and Linda Tannehill – The Market for Liberty Morris and Linda Tannehill, 1970 (second edition, Fox & Wilkes, 1984) Bruce Benson – The Enterprise of Law: Justice without the State Pacific Research Institute, 1990 Fred Foldvary – Public Goods and Private Communities : The Market Provision of Social Services Edward Elgar Publishing, 1994 RobertRead More

Benjamin Tucker, Liberty And Individualist Anarchism

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, these three; but the greatest of these is Liberty. Formerly the price of Liberty was eternal vigilance, but now it can be had for fifty cents a year.”(2) So wrote Benjamin Ricketson Tucker (1854-1939) on the first page of the first issue of Liberty.(3)(4) The American periodical Liberty , edited and published by Tucker fromRead More


Anthony de Jasay is an independent scholar living in France. He was born in Hungary, and studied in Hungary, Australia and England. He was a don in Oxford till 1962, publishing papers in learned economics journals. Subsequently, he went into business. After his retirement, his interest turned to political philosophy. His books include “The State” (1985), “Choice,Read More

The Contractarian Theory of Morals: Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction Here are the Frequently asked Questions, or Frequently made Accusations; but we’ll cast them in the form of questions. The questions go like this: Isn’t it the case that – 1. “Contractarianism refers to a contract that isn’t worth the paper it’s not written on” 2. “Contractarianism with its appeal to prudence doesn’t deserveRead More