Consequentialist libertarianism

Consequentialist libertarianism (also known as libertarian consequentialism[1] or consequentialist liberalism, in Europe) refers to the libertarian position that is supportive of a free market and strong private property rights only on the grounds that they bring about favorable consequences, such as prosperity or efficiency.[2] What consequentialist libertarians advocate is derived simply through cost–benefit calculation, taking a broad account of consequences.[3] It is contrasted with deontological libertarianism, also known as "natural-rights libertarianism," which considers the initiation of force and fraud to be immoral, regardless of consequences.[4][5] Unlike deontological libertarians, consequentialist libertarians do not necessarily see all cases of initiation of force as immoral and never see it as inherently immoral (i.e., they do not express a belief in natural rights). Rather, their position is that political and economic liberty lead to the best consequences in the form of happiness and prosperity, and for that reason alone it should be supported. (Some libertarians may have a conception of libertarianism that is a hybrid of consequentialism and deontology).[2]

Unlike deontological libertarians, consequentialist libertarians advocate actions they believe bring about favorable consequences regardless of whether these constitute initiation of force.[6][7] For example, unlike deontological libertarians, in addition to support for involuntary taxes, some consequentialists libertarians support eminent domain[8] Particular views vary among consequentialist libertarians, with political theorist David D. Friedman supporting a consequentialist form of anarcho-capitalism where the content of law is bought and sold rather there being an established legal code forbidding initiation of force.[9]

Notable consequentialist libertarians

Milton Friedman,[10] David D. Friedman, Peter Leeson, Ludwig von Mises,[11] and Friedrich Hayek[12][13][14] are consequentalist libertarians.

See also


  1. Yeager, Leland B. Ethics As Social Science: The Moral Philosophy of Social Cooperation. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2001. p. 283
  2. 1 2 Wolff, Jonathan. "Libertarianism, Utility, and Economic Competition" (PDF). Virginia Law Review.
  3. Miron, Jeffrey A. Libertarianism: from A to Z. Basic Books, 2010. p.39
  4. Bradford. R. W. 2008. The Two Libertarianisms. Liberty (1987). Liberty Foundation.
  5. Zwolinski, Matt. "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". Retrieved 2008-08-23. |contribution= ignored (help)
  6. Charles Murray, David Friedman, David Boaz, and R.W. Bradford. What's Right vs. What Works. Liberty. January 2005, Volume 19, Number 1, Page 31.
  7. Barnett, Randy E., "The Moral Foundations of Modern Libertarianism." Varieties of Conservatism in America, Peter Berkowitz, ed., Hoover Press, 2004.
  8. Coercion vs. Consent" Richard Epstein, Randy Barnett, David Friedman & James P. Pinkerton. Reason Magazine. March 2004
  9. Friedman, David. The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism. Harper & Row. pp. 127–128
  12. Hayek's Constitution of Liberty: Ethical Basis of the Juridical Framework of Individual Liberty – Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Winter 1982, vol. 5, No. 4 [1982]
  13. Gray, John N. "F. A. Hayek and the Rebirth of Classical Liberalism" 1982
  14. Alan O. Ebenstein. Friedrich Hayek: A Biography p. 383
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