Social Rules and Personal Plans in Libertarian Thought

Libertarian political philosophy is often associated with a concern for pure principles, particularly those of natural law or a “non-aggression axiom,” as well as with a radicalism exemplified by anarchism. Not all libertarian philosophers are this way, however. This work looks at two prominent libertarian political philosophers, Eric Mack and Loren Lomasky, and the alternative path they took. Despite significant differences in their accounts, Mack and Lomasky each take as foundational conceptions of people as pursuing their own plans in life. Moreover, they recognize that social rules facilitate mutual respect among planners. This mutual respect is compatible with significant variation in possible social rules, leading these authors to accept a range of legitimate possible specifications of rights rather than deriving a priori a unique specification. This, in turn, creates space for states to be one source of legitimate social rules that allow moral agents to plan and let plan.

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