The following trialogue is then a realistic scenario within Nozick's libertarian society. A police officer comes upon a couple struggling with each other, the man [a doctor] evidently trying to rape the woman.I'm not saying this would happen in a libertarian society, of course. Maybe people would be more reluctant to sell themselves into slavery, even if they were destitute and desperate. Maybe slaveowners wouldn't be particularly cruel to their human property. All I'm saying is, from the point of view of libertarianism, this is the fair and deserved result of self-ownership and free-market transactions. This is libertarian justice.
Woman: Please, sir, please help me.
Officer (to Man): Hey, you, let her go at once!
Man: Don't get involved.
Officer: I must. You are violating this woman's right not to be assaulted.
Man: No, I'm not. She is my slave. Here are the papers, signed by herself.
Woman: But I was coerced into signing. He said he would not treat my father [for a deadly medical condition] if I refused to sign.
Officer: That's not coercion but at most duress. He was at liberty not to treat your father or to ask compensation for treating him.
Woman: But my father is dead!
Man: The contract says only that I would try to save him, and I did.
Officer (to Woman): I'm sorry, ma'am, but I cannot help you.
Man: But you could help me in forcing her to fulfill her contractual obligations. She has already scratched me. See if you can tie her hands.
(Officer ties Woman's hands, she screams for help as she is being raped. ...)
Man (to Officer): I'm glad the police are protecting citizens' rights. Isn't she great? My sons will have lots of fun with her when I bring her home.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
One more bit on libertarianism
An often overlooked feature of libtertarianism, stemming from the principles of self-ownership, absolute property rights, and a free-market, is that people in Libertopia can legally sell themselves into slavery. Robert Nozick, super-libertarian philosopher, thinks this is as it should be. One of my favorite illustrations of the idiocy of libertarianism comes from Thomas Pogge: