Asking what is libertarianism is more like asking what distinguishes Georgetown from Foggy Bottom than asking how the White House fits together. Libertarianism is a body of related views; it has the unity of a neighborhood more so than a house.
There are such things as libertarian conclusions. Libertarians conclude, for one reason or another, that each individual ought to be imbued with a wide sphere of personal and economic rights against interference from others, that such rights cannot easily be overridden, and that the justifiable role of government is small. (The government may not be small in other ways, but it will be small in scope.) Libertarians get to these conclusions in different ways. But that’s what libertarians believe in a nutshell.
Why they believe it varies from libertarian to libertarian. I’ve heard from critics that libertarians assume a controversial view of self-ownership and derive everything from that. I’ve…
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