Tag Archives: moral knowledge

Violating the Non-Aggression Principle

I had a talk with a libertarian yesterday. He’s actually quite prolific when it comes to libertarianism (he gave a paper at Princeton on sphere sovereignty before “converting” over to libertarianism there’s a video on that).  

Essentially, his argument was that it is always wrong to initiate coercion against a person or their property–the non-aggression principle. From that, he concluded that because I don’t have a problem with aggressing against someone when it is the right thing to do, that in principle, I would be OK with slavery obviously.  

I pointed out that, in fact, it would be him who would favour violating the principle of non-aggression. Remember, I said, “when it is the right thing to do.” If you were walking down the street, I would not, out of the blue violate you or your property for no reason. But if you were holding people as slaves or (as the example I used), were to sell babies for a profit, then I would violate the principle of non-aggression. My libertarian friend wondered how I could impose my own morality on someone else. But this is not like, say, what are you going to put on your pizza for dinner tonight. There are differences between these things–pizza? Selling babies for profit? What one would you violate the principle of non-aggression for?

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