Re: Utilitarian Contradiction ?

Ian Goddard (
Sat, 23 May 1998 22:22:15 -0400

Daniel Fabulich <> wrote:

>> IAN: I agree that libertarianism results in
>> the greatest good, but I detect a contradiction
>> in saying that utilitarianism is antithetical
>> to "me first" AND implies libertarianism.
>They are not contrary at all, if you agree with me that libertarianism is
>more conducive to net utility than any other political scheme (except
>possibly anarcho-capitalism, but I believe anarcho-capitalism will arrive
>at a libertarian system of laws).

IAN: If we say there is "no possible way to construe
utilitarianism as a 'me first' principle," we say
the sets of "me first" (M) and utilitarianism (U)
are disjoint, such that the intersection (^) of
M and U is the null set(/), ergo: M ^ U = (/).

If a libertarian society (L) is a society defined
by the free market where individuals act according
to their own measure of what is in their best in-
terest, there is an intersection of L and M.

Therefore, if L = U (as we agree), then there
IS an intersection of U and M, such that the
cited claim that M ^ U = (/) would be untrue.

I think that M and L intersect, but not by 100%,
which is to say, as you've articulated, that not
all things that can be defined as "me first" can
be defined as libertarian. I think that L is either
equal to U or all of L is in U, such that no L is
external to U (which I think we agree). I believe
that L may be defined: "me-first + nonaggression."

No question this may be open to improvement, and
does not constitute any deeply imbedded analysis.

>Take this thought experiment: You have the opportunity to steal something
>you want; you know that you will not be caught. Your utility will
>increase if you steal it, while the owner's utility will decrease more
>than yours increases. An egoist, acting to maximize agent utility, will
>steal; a utilitarian, acting to maximize net utility, will not steal.

IAN: Or a libertarian adhering to the
nonaggression principle. I think that
"utilibertarianism" is egoism under
the principle of nonaggression.


"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its
opponents and making them see the light, but rather because
its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows
up that is familiar with the idea from the beginning."

Max Plank - Nobel physicist

"The smallest minority on earth is the individual.
Those who deny individual rights cannot claim
to be defenders of minorities." Ayn Rand