Re: Definition of Libertarianism (was: prejudices)

Pat Fallon (
Wed, 17 Sep 1997 10:44:52 -0400 (EDT)

>Derek Strong aka Derek Ryan:

>I'm not positive that "never initiate force" works as a complete definition
>of the libertarian philosophy, but it seems like a pretty good

Agreed. It works as a good short definition of libertarian philosophy, but
you can posit sufficiently convoluted situations such that I, for one, would
violate it.

For example, suppose I was on a train and heard about some nut running
through it who was shooting randomly. He bursts into the car I'm riding in
and begins shooting. The man next to me is carrying a gun, but happens to be
a rabid anti-gun fanatic who is bringing in the weapon to the local police
gun round-up she-bang, and he refuses my polite request to borrow his gun.
It is his property. I will be initiating force against him if I take it from
him by force. Strictly following the no-inititation of force rule could get
me killed. I may decide to grab his gun, shoot the crazed nut (not the
anti-gun fanatic), and offer to reimburse him for his bullets. I'll take my
chances with the jury if he presses charges. I think Nozic (sp?) goes into
cases like this in "Anarchy, State and Utopia", but he uses invading tanks
screened by captured hostages.

"Never initiate force" may be like Newtonian physics, it works as a good
approximation in the everyday world, but may not give the right answers in
atypical situations.

Pat Fallon