Saturday, March 05, 2011

Moral Seriousness

I was looking at a website called Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and found this:
Our friend David Sobel, over at PEA Soup, has a very nice post discussing what he takes to be a serious problem with the Nozickian approach to property rights (one that probably applies to the Randian or Rothbardian approach as well). The problem is that "such libertarian views cannot adequately distinguish the moral seriousness of the wide variety of kinds of actions that violate our property-rights."
I was very surprised to see Rand mentioned as possibly open to the same charge.

I went to Sobel's post and found this opening:
I want to try to develop an argument against deontological libertarian moral principles that treat a wide range of our basic rights as flowing from morally powerful rights of self-ownership.
Well, that pretty much lets Rand off the hook.

A) She is explicitly opposed to the deontological approach in ethics.

B) She doesn't take the self-ownership tack in justifying fundamental rights. Rothbard does.

Somehow Sobel puzzles over pollution and arrives at the conclusion that libertarians may not have a consistent argument against "redistributive taxation".
And if the social good that accompanies such pollution is sufficient to justify a fair amount of pollution (even if not as nearly as much as we currently put out) despite it violating the rights of just about all humans, then surely the social good involved in progressive taxation may well be permissible as well so long as it produces great social good (and violates the property rights of far fewer people than pollution).
That's a lot of convolution,
and maybe a bit of stealth,
moving from air pollution
to justify redistribution
of other people's wealth.

No comments: