Best Thing I’ve Read This Fall

The principle of General Liberty allows people to pursue many different paths… Want to establish a community in conformity with your religious or political or moral views? Go right ahead. Fancy abolishing private property and enforcing strict equality? Feel free. Are you a bohemian wanting to found an art colony? By all means. A homosexual or free love or nudist community? Amish? Puritan? Anti-technology Luddite? Yes, yes, yes, and more power to you. As long as no one is forced to join or support any of these ventures, they are all perfectly consistent with the classical liberal state. Indeed, it is a fair bet that they would flourish in such a state like nowhere else as people successively investigate various ways of living; historically it has always been the freest societies that were the most vibrant (not to mention wealthiest, which helps considerably). And since people who dislike or disagree with you are not forced to go along with you, they have no right to stop you–just as you have no right to stop them in their pursuits. They might try to change your mind, as you might theirs, but at the end of the day we can all go home and disagree in peace.

That’s from James Otteson’s Actual Ethics (p. 120), which I am now reading, enjoying and learning a lot from. Its investigation of the ethics of liberty informs and is informed by the economics of liberty.

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