Liberal Critique of Libertarianism

Liberal critiques of libertarianism matter because libertarians claim to be liberals. Indeed, they often claim to be the only true liberals in a world of imposters. As libertarians interpret it, liberalism confers on individuals an absolute right to conduct their lives as they choose as long as they respect the equal rights of others to do the same. They contend that this principle justifies state power only when used to enforce rights against force, fraud, and theft, and that it precludes almost all public interference in the free market, the redistribution of wealth, and any form of welfare state. On this view, those who today defend such redistributive practices in the name of liberalism betray, rather than fulfill, basic liberal ideals.

Not surprisingly, such claims have ...

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