quinta-feira, fevereiro 14, 2013

Libertarianism: Natural Rights

Arguments for Libertarianism: Nozick’s Natural Rights:
Our rights function as “side-constraints,” Nozick says, limiting what others—including the state—may do to us. We can’t trade rights away for benefits. For example, we are prohibited from deciding that a little more happiness or a little more wealth (or a lot more) is sufficient grounds for violating a person’s rights. People “may not be sacrificed or used for the achieving of other ends without their consent,” Nozick writes. “Individuals are inviolable.”

From this Nozick moves to a basic principle of self-ownership. I own myself and thus have a right to do with myself as I please. You own yourself and have the same right. I don’t own you and you don’t own me. This gives each one of us rights not only to ourselves, but also to the fruits of our labor. (Nozick argues for this last point along Lockean lines.) In other words, Nozick takes our fundamental rights to be of the negative sort. These are rights to be free from certain acts by other people (assault, theft, enslavement, etc.), not rights to be provided with certain goods and services (a right to healthcare, or a right to education).

But this leads to an enormous question when it comes to politics, one Nozick helpfully points out: “So strong and far-reaching are these rights that they raise the question of what, if anything, the state and its officials may do. How much room do individual rights leave for the state?”

The shortest answer is “not much.”

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