Sunday, 8 February 2004

Debating libertarianism

Will Baude and Tim Sandefur are engaged in a bit of a running battle with the Curmudgeonly Clerk over whether or not individual libertarians’ having moral positions constitute a betrayal of their commitment to not legislate on the basis of morality.

I tend to agree with Tim that the Clerk is confused on a number of points, and leave the detailed critiques to Tim and Will. My main, and unoriginal, observation would be that “societal acceptance” is something that is relatively independent of legality. (My second observation would be that Reason was a far better arbiter of libertarian thought under Virginia Postrel’s editorship, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Update: Tim Sandefur responds. Actually, after I wrote the above sentence, I realized that the word “arbiter” doesn't quite characterize my thought; I meant something closer to “exemplar.” Indeed, contra Jonah Goldberg (and his bloviation that National Review polices the boundaries of conservatism*), I don’t necessarily think libertarian thought needs an arbiter.

* That these boundaries apparently include the undeniably brilliant but transparently bigoted John Derbyshire within them speaks ill of either conservatism or NR (or perhaps both).