January 9, 2008

5 Common Libertarian Arguments Debunked: Part V – “The Value of Freedom”

Posted in Economics, Politics tagged , , , at 3:35 am by Travis Bedford

Here’s the fifth and final installation of the “5 Libertarian Arguments Debunked” series. Today’s topic, argument number five:

5. The argument from liberty, which claims that freedom per se is intrinsically valuable – valuable for its own sake – and that the best political system is therefore the one that maximizes freedom.

Never let a libertarian be your banker. This one is attempting to limit how we can take our freedom. I like mine gently stirred, with cream, and a bit of sugar. Libertarians prefer their coffee freedom plain because they deny the existence of cream and sugar.

While I agree that “freedom” is valuable to a degree, there are other valuable things. You can have all the freedom in the world while living in a mud hut in the middle of Africa and be completely unhappy. Non – insane people do not want this.

If we should try to allow people to live the best lives they can, there are some cases where some rights may need to be taken away for the greater good. While this sounds a lot like something from 1984 (big brother IS watching you, after all), it’s really not that bad when you get down to it, and is something most people agree with.

People like their right to live well, and even if this means they give up their right to live horribly (they don’t), they don’t have a problem with it. let’s take a look at this as a list:

  1. People like living in a nice way
  2. The easiest way to live in a nice way is to have a government make things nice for you
  3. To do this, governments need to regulate some things
  4. People consent to having some things regulated in exchange for the good parts of society
  5. Therefore, the government can morally have sex with regulate to the degree that the citizenship grants

Freedom is a good thing, but it needs to be combined with other good things in order to be part of the best political system.



  1. Mike said,

    Libertarians DO believe in regulations. We believe in government regulations barring:


    Any other regulations beyond that are unjustified and an infringement on people’s liberty.

    That is what the founding fathers believed and that is what allowed America to become the most prosperous nation on earth.

  2. rdthrawn said,

    Thank you for commenting. It’s much appreciated.

    While I prefer to call myself a liberal, I agree wholeheartedly with what you propose should be regulated. I would take it a bit farther, but that’s just a question of where the line of “harming others” is crossed. I’m used to dealing with extremist libertarians – the sort who argue that the free market and privatization will solve everything. The series was designed mainly to help people deal with them.

    Possible disagreements aside, I hope you enjoyed reading my blog. Best wishes, and look out for FreeSkeptic.net, which will be starting soon.

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