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Editorial notes
  • Often a vandal/troll target
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More quotes[edit]

"I have always found it quaint, and rather touching, that there is a movement in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough." — Christopher Hitchens

"Let's be clear: unless I have profoundly misunderstood its position, I pretty much despise American Libertarianism. Have these people seriously looked at the problems of the world and thought, 'Hmm, what we need here is a bit more selfishness'? . . . I beg to differ." — Iain Banks

Philosophical problems (?)[edit]

"Strict libertarianism relies on the distinction between positive and negative liberties, a distinction which is not universally accepted by philosophers."

True, but find something which is universally accepted by philosophers...

"raising "property" to the same inviolable status as "life" causes some problems: a sweeping interpretation would denounce all taxation as illegitimate expropriation, making it impossible to finance even the most essential public services."

First, the impossibility of funding public services is not a "philosophical problem" (but a really concrete one). Second, libertarians are not interested in public services, since they would like to privatize anything, so this is not a problem at all in the libertarianism philosophy.

"For similar reasons, libertarianism is a circular argument. Libertarians speak of "property" and "contract," as if these legal ideas somehow had meaning in the absence of law. [but] rights must be recognized by the consensus of local society to exist."

Libertarians speak of "property" and "contract" as the foundations of what should be (their) ideal society. Doing so, they try to convince all the other people that "property" and "contract" are indeed so important, gaining the consensus to make them effective. This is not a circular argument.
Imagine a world where almost nobody thinks that public healthcare should be a right. Would the few supporters of public healthcare doing a circular argument, since they speak of the rights of being cured/healthy, although those are not recognized by that imaginary society?

"The market for real estate would be much less efficient without deeds registered at a government office that showed who owned what. Law called all of these things into being. The same holds true of contracts."

Again this is not a philosophical problem, if anything, is a technical problem. Furthermore, no explanation is given for why a private agency, or more private agencies, could not be able to efficiently handle deeds and contracts.

"Take fraud, for example. If a man is found to have lied to his health insurance company about a pre-existing condition, the police (in libertarian parlance, "Men with Guns") will use force against him. Libertarians call this "retaliatory force" and frame the acts by the sick man as initiating force which makes for a nice game of mental gymnastics."

The man tricked the insurance company, paying less of what his pre-existing condition imply, and putting the insurance company in an higher probability of having a loss. I do not see how considering a fraudulent behavior a kind of initiation of force would be such a mental gymnastic... This example "sick man VS insurance company" sounds a lot like an appeal to emotions.

McLaghing (talk) 17:47, 15 November 2017 (UTC).

You do make valid points, however this article generalized libertarians too much, and whoever wrote this appeared to have absolutely no knowledge of what libertarianism actually is. It was all one big disingenuous and intellectually dishonest rant, and it honestly reminded me in a way of conservapedia's article, which bashed the liberal aspects of it. All libertarian is is an umbrella term to describe various ideologies. The original writer seemed to be confusing libertarianism with anarcho-capitalism and minarchism, the former of which is not even libertarian at all, but a provisional path to corporatism, which is basically rebranded statism controlled by businesses. The non-socialistic branches of libertarianism are pro-market, not pro-business (there is a big difference). While minarchism is a branch of libertarianism, they only make up a certain percentage of them. Libertarianism is really just a term to describe a bunch of thought schools that preach for a limited government, whether socialist or capitalist. They are a step below authoritative statism and pure anarchism, and some are for more government than others (i.e. classical liberals vs. minarchists & objectivists). We need to point out that, in order to eliminate the dishonest misconceptions that libertarianism is all crazy paleo crap. For instance, many classical liberals, such as myself and some others who are users here, believe that some taxes are necessary, such as free healthcare, some aspects of Welfare, and planned parenthood, but oppose others, such as those that go towards agencies like the DEA, NSA, the military, homeland security, etc. These centre-left branches, including beltwayers (like those at Reason and Cato) believe in repealing anti-discrimination laws due to the market's inevitable natural punishing of those businesses that do, but oppose trusts, monopolization, and are in favor of a reasonable amount of protectionism. Many libertarians are utilitarians, and not all of them agree with Ayn Rand's quackery. This article generalized things way too much. Darth Ravigious (talk) 19:53, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
I agree with you that this article is written with a really poor understanding of what libertarianism is. Also, I would like to point out a big problem with essentially all the articles on politics/philosophy on RationalWiki:
The rational criticism of any political philosophy can consist only of two things:
1) Logical, empirical or scientific arguments in favor of or against the truth of the statements that the political philosophy does on the reality. Example of these statements and the related political philosophies could be (roughly speaking): making all drugs legal will decrease the death related to drugs criminal activity (liberal left, libertarianism..), big punishments, like death penalty, will decrease the criminality (autoritharian, fascism...), the free-market always selects the best provider of goods/services (capitalism)... All these claims can be rationally tested (statistically, logically, by experiments, looking at the history...) to see if they agree with the reality or not.
2) A list of the effects that the political philosophy causes (or would cause) when implemented. If the political philosophy has been/is already implemented, then this can be done collecting data and statistics from historical records. If the political philosophy has never been implemented, then speculations on its implementation must be logical and in agreement with the current scientific knowledge.
Every other judgement of the political theory, can not be labelled as "rational criticism", but only has a really personal opinion. In particular, there is no rational argument in favor of or against the concept that ""property" and "life" have the same inviolable status", because that is just an opinion about the value of two things, an opinion which is subjective by definition. However, I see that on RationalWiki almost all the articles on political philosophies have these kind of judgements.

McLaghing (talk) 08:54, 16 November 2017 (UTC)

Arguments against strict libertarianism (some clean up)[edit]

The section Arguments against strict libertarianism has a lot of flawed objection, mostly due to big misunderstandings of libertarianism.

I have tried to improve it.

Philosophical problems
Strict libertarianism relies on the distinction between positive and negative liberties, a distinction which is not universally accepted by philosophers.

Nothing is universally accepted by philosophers.

raising "property" to the same inviolable status as "life" causes some problems: a sweeping interpretation would denounce all taxation as illegitimate expropriation, making it impossible to finance even the most essential public services.

But this is not a problem for strictly libertarians, indeed, they oppose all taxation and, consequently, tax funded public services!

In fact, ignoring the existence of national sovereignty and international trade [...] The market for real estate would be much less efficient without deeds registered at a government office that showed who owned what. Law called all of these things into being. The same holds true of contracts.

This point repeat the previous, and the last quoted part is an argument to consequences. — Unsigned, by: McLaghing / talk / contribs 16:51, 5 January 2018 (UTC)


Guys, I just stumbled upon rationalwiki and it's gold. Sadly, the page about libertarianism is really poor quality, when it comes to objections. I've read couple of good ones in my life, but this is somewhere between lack of understanding of the idea and having no imagination.

Let me comment on chosen few ones:

It is not a circular argument. Libertarians do not believe law is a set of rules defined by government or society. They believe basic rights can be logically understood from the nature of human and life. They simply do not view legal positivism as true. Actually legal positivism is closer to being circular argument. It can be debated, if it's a proper view, however it is not circular reasoning.

Aggression is defined in libertarianism as interfering with another persons body or property against their will. Since signing a contract based on a lie affects someone else's property, it is considered aggression. While your moral view might differ, it does not prove it's philosophical inconsistency, it just proves you have a different moral values.

I find it hard to understand, how is a person receiving free money at expense of others a victim. I understand, how calling them "parasite" might be appeal to emotion.

With regards to not being able to create income for oneself. There is no reason, why private charity wouldn't be able to support unlucky few who cannot rely on the help of the family. In fact, the freer the country, the more money is spent on charity. If we have economic capacity to support them now, we certainly would have even more through private matters.

With regards to the argument, that technological advancement will render people unemployed, it's a form of Luddite, which has proven to be false. Either there is more work in newly open areas, which couldn't be supported as work had to be allocated to areas now supported by increased productivity, or in ideal scenario, once everything is produced by machines, basically everything is free and the problem of scarcity is almost solved.

There are multiple market solutions to the problem of being an expert and private certification. Just kindly reminder from historical perspective, that before government control of food there were no significant issues with food quality or people getting poisoned.

With regards to healthcare or other services - yes, exactly the libertarian answer is, one does not have a "right" to it. There are possible mechanisms to ensure receiving proper care. It is a deep subject, so just few bullet points: - compulsory insurance drives costs up - voluntary insurance can allow you to adjust you risk-aversion to received medical aid - there is always room for charity, too, or mutual insurence

Libertarians have an answer to external costs - privatizing more land and water, so that it is not external cost, but actually someones cost. Hence, the property will be taken care of and potential damage are subject to litigation, creating incentive to avoid them.

there is no reason, why enforced standards would be better then voluntary ones. In fact, it is a true test of a standard - if it is useful and beneficial, it will be adopted voluntarily.

I kept my responses brief. Apologies for leaving it here halfway through, maybe can return one day to finish it off. — Unsigned, by: / talk

What is going on here?[edit]

This article is an outstanding example of Poe's Law. I legitimately can't tell if this is just genuinely bad criticism or if the page has been hijacked and turned into a parody of said criticism. There is plenty of academic literature on this topic. But the core ideas of libertarian and the core critiques aren't being discussed. And what is being discussed is genuinely ignorant.

I can type up a long-form discussion of this to add to / fix this page. But I'm not going to waste my time unless people are actually going to incorporate it. I've wasted too much time trying to fix genuinely shitty articles on other wiki sites only to have internal political bullshit prevent improvements. (Even on things as innocent as a page on Athenian Democracy failing to cite any of the standard academic works on the topic.)

Let's set aside that the page doesn't even give a remotely accurate presentation of libertarianism because it combines a bunch of contradictory positions that are either from distinct arguments that happen to reach similar conclusions or that are merely "bro science" instead of serious thought.

The responses / criticism section is totally fucked. The long and short of it is that libertarianism has an implied a philosophical dilemma. All of the arguments on this page accept the "wrong" side, the one that libertarians claim that everyone agrees on. If you go down that path you will lose. Once you accept the premises, the conclusions follow. But you can just take the other horn of the dilemma (like many academics in fact do) and then you are totally fine.

For example if you are doing economic political science, everyone who isn't a libertarian is just going to say that the demand for social violence is inelastic. Therefore having an inefficient monopoly on the use of force will result in lower levels of social violence than anarcho-capitalism (and that this is good for some some specified moral reason that a libertarian would accept as valid). You then take it a step further and say that even the night-watchman thing is not desirable for the same reasons -- the market does in fact serve the public more efficiently than the state. But that this will also not be acceptable given the moral presuppositions the libertarian himself makes.

This is the standard blue-print for an academic refutation. Trying to accept the premises while denying the conclusion isn't going to work because you'd have to find some hidden assumption that leads to a logical fallacy. None of the actual arguments do this. Instead your refutations are just introducing presuppositions that are directly contradictory to the assumed ones. But that's a complete violation of logic; once you do that, you can prove literally anything. So you've refuted nothing. (And if you adopt a more stringent logic than classical as advocated by many philosophers, then you can't even fake it.)

So, should I do a serious rewrite? Or is that a waste of my time? — Unsigned, by: / talk

Are you wasting your time? Perhaps, as that would depend on what you assert Libertarianism to be. I'd like a link to these sites where you have attempted to put furth your views and had them shot down, so I may examine the arguments from both sides. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 13:33, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
The only argument you actually make with any clarity about the content of the article, my bunch-of-numbers friend, is the one you call an example. Only it's really really really begging the question(in the fallacious sense, not colloquial meaning), because only someone who is completely off their rocker overdosing on libertarian ideology assumes violence can be interpreted with fucking supply and demand curves. Anything following that interpretation is going to be fucking nuts. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 15:51, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
So, ikanreed, "fractal wrongness" it is. I gave an example of how a professor of economic political science would refute libertarianism. He's point out that there's an incorrect implied assumption. Your response was to attack the entire academic field in question, simultaneously defending libertarians against the attack and accusing an entire academic field of being overdosed on libertarian ideology. At this point I'm not convinced that you understand how arguments work.
☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise, I think you misread my post. I've given up on edits to wikis because of past political aggravations over incredibly trivial edits. I haven't edited wikipedia in over a decade because of the juvenile bullshit that happens when people get their feelings hurt when they can't cope with reality not giving a damned about their wishes. Edits like, "citation needed" or "deleting this section because it is literally has nothing to do with the article" should not involve me in months of controversy. Given that history (on wikipedia) I'm not wasting my time and energy fixing an article this fucked up unless people here actually care. Given the response from ikanreed, it seems like "throw a tantrum" is the modus operendi here. If the point is to have a feel-good emotional outburst instead of an intellectually rigorous article, there's no point in hand-holding some entitled brat through PhD level material that's just going to be ignored anyway.

To the extent that it matters libertarian arguments are typically grouped by the originating field, but there's an underlying typology and a few common threads. So you can deal with entire categories of arguments by showing that they are the same thing and are flawed in the same way.

E.g. You frequently see economists make claims to the effect of "I don't care about moral theory, I'm just discussing economic consequences." That's utter bullshit. Normative judgements contain implied moral claims. So this economist is just skipping over the piece that turns his opinion into an argument -- establishing his weighing of consequences as the morally relevant one. And any claim of this sort can easily be torn apart with 1st year PhD economics. (The tacit assumption here is a crappy one; no one in the field would take it seriously, but plenty of people on the internet who don't know better will.)

This is a general phenomena, if it seems like the premises are unobjectionable and inevitably lead to a conclusion you disagree with, then there's probably an unstated assumption lurking about. People like Ben Shapiro do this crap all the time to cause their opponents to flip out, get distracted by a tangent, or simply look like fools. But if you calmly and rationally expose the full set of assumptions, then the flaws will be obvious.

That's the problem with this article in a nutshell. It devolves into a rhetorical pissing contest instead of just showing that the claims require an assumption that isn't generally accepted. But since it seems like people are going to lose their shit if I take the time to do this for all of the possible argument combinations, I don't see the point in putting in the work to actually fix this.

Frankly, I don't have the energy to deal with variations of, "economic political science hurts my feelings". Again, the universe does not give a damn. No amount of being upset at gravitational physics is going to let you fly. — Unsigned, by: / talk

IEEE nitpick[edit]

"International organisations enforcing universal standards on machinery and telecommunication (such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) would not exist anymore."—from edit by @Hex4

I think there are better examples to use here than IEEE, if one should be used at all.

IEEE is primarily a professional organization/association; so although IEEE has a branch for developing standards (including some very widely used ones), that is not their sole reason for existing. For IEEE to not exist at all, it would probably have to be argued that professional organizations for many other professions wouldn't exist either.

Also, from my understanding, standards bodies are generally only responsible for making standards, and intentionally leave the adoption/enforcement of standards up to someone else, such as a government regulatory agency.

Maybe the point that wanted to be made was that, if there is no incentive for adoption of or compliance with standards, then what would not exist are the standards themselves; the standards bodies wouldn't be what to worry about.

(Yes, standards are created somewhat in the hope that "market competition" means society will get to choose from competing yet compatible/interoperable, high-quality, low-cost solutions, rather than from nonstandard solutions. But this section seems narrowly written from the view of the tech-savvy consumer, who probably believes that the post-standards dystopia is already a reality since tens or maybe hundreds of millions of consumers use monopolized services like iMessage and FaceTime.)

Chrstphrchvz (talk) 16:29, 30 June 2019 (UTC)

Hawaiian red's big addition to the bigotry section[edit]

While I don't really disagree with their assessment, the phrase "the tendency to" does some heavy lifting in that section. I don't want to revert it because it cites some sources for some claims, which is batting above average for RW on the whole, but at the same time, I'd like it better if it could cite libertarian publications, platforms, and politicians for more of the list items. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 15:07, 23 July 2019 (UTC)


I'm planning on doing so over the next few weeks. I forgot to add any sources, but I can get sources for every single claim and then some

Hawaiianred (talk)

Libertarians claim to be opposed to sexual harassment, as with this Libertarian Party statement[1]. But it's not clear that they can do anything about it. Here's a Canadian Vice article on the connections between MRAs and Libertarians, which suggests the idea of one group oppressing another has no place in the individualistic libertarian worldview: "the idea of feminism makes no sense within this scope. It's incomprehensible, for the committed libertarian, that one group ('women') could be oppressed by another group ('men') in the absence of explicit state violence. "[2]
Here's an academic article on the difference between libertarian and feminist jurisprudence which reflects on their very different ideas of freedom, suggesting that once you discount oppression by the state, libertarianism can't understand gender-based oppression and must therefore attribute differences (e.g. in gender pay and gender representation in professions) to the individual choices men and women make about what jobs to take, etc.[3] And just to show Libertarians aren't all bad, an article for Reason that defends the idea of rape culture - but doesn't suggest doing anything about it beyond individuals changing their behavior.[4] Certainly if you believe individual actions are what matters, and any restriction on individual actions by the state is wrong, then even if you're a libertarian who believes in patriarchal oppression all you can do is call on men to be nicer.
Some libertarian organisations have a sexual harassment culture problem, but who knows if it's worse than in other political persuasions. But there were claims of repeated sexual harassment at the Cato Institute.[5]. --Annanoon (talk) 15:39, 24 July 2019 (UTC)

Marx as a minarchist[edit]

"Karl Marx could also accurately be described as a minarchist, as he believed that the government should only exist for minimal protection and the distribution of the wealth." How on Earth is a government that redistributes the wealth a radically minimalistic? And I am not sure Marx would agree with that characterization either (see his Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875).--Duckington (talk) 20:25, 23 August 2019 (UTC)

Significant rewrite needed[edit]

To be frank, this article is currently a mess. Different sections contradict themselves: see the Critical definition section (more or less correctly) citing the NAP as the moral basis for libertarianism, and later sections saying that the moral basis of libertarianism is utilitarianism. These two things can't both be true at the same time, since the NAP is not a utilitarian principle.

As another example, see the tone difference between the Tendency towards bigotry section and the rest of the article. The very first sentence of that section decries that libertarianism "does not denote an anti-government philosophy as much as a co-optation of left-wing anti-authoritarianism as a means of justifying (or simply denying) the social and economic hierarchies under capitalism under the guise of freedom.", which not only commits an ad hominem fallacy of appealing to motive (they only say these things in order to justify/deny hierarchies!), but also tacitly assumes that social and economic hierarchies under capitalism must be a morally bad thing and must be antithetical to freedom, which can hardly be trivially assumed. It also directly contradicts earlier parts of the article, which gave an overview of different sorts of libertarianism and stated that it was a big tent ideology united only by its distrust of government, and not some right-wing conspiracy to co-opt left-wing authoritarianism.

Probably the most hilarious self-contradiction is within a single sentence: the last sentence of the Inspiration sentence identifies argumentum ad cellarium as a fallacy, and then immediately goes on to endorse said fallacy by citing a lengthy comment comparing libertarians to basement-dwellers and commenting that, indeed, the concerns of libertarians do precisely mirror that of basement-dwelling teenagers.

As it stands, the article needs a significant rewrite to clear up inconsistencies like this, as well as reduce the obvious ideological bias of the authors seeping through some of the sections that can't be covered under SPOV in even the most charitable of interpretations. MistressOfTheMoon (talk) 04:51, 26 December 2020 (UTC)