Huemer’s “new pair of trousers” is a libertarianism designed to be plausible to non-libertarians as well as libertarians.
How does he make his brand of libertarianism plausible to non-libertarians? He starts with moral premises most non-libertarians already accept, argues methodically and transparently, and generously considers a wide range of objections. When social science is relevant, Huemer appeals to mainstream economics, political science, and psychology – not the heterodox approaches that libertarians love so well. While I don’t expect The Problem of Political Authority to make millions of converts, it as broadly convincing as a reasoned argument for an unpopular conclusion can be.
How does Huemer make his brand of libertarianism plausible to libertarians? He escapes objections to rights-based libertarianism by turning the “Non-Aggression Axiom” into a “Non-Aggression Presumption.” He escapes objections to consequentialist libertarianism by taking this Non-Aggression Presumption seriously. The result is a position immune to all of the standard counter-examples to rights-based and consequentialist libertarianism.
When libertarians want to appeal to a broader audience, they usually dial down their rhetoric and their radicalism. The Problem of Political Authority dials down the rhetoric, but leaves the radicalism intact. Libertarians don’t need Aristotelian metaphysics, exceptionless moral axioms, or heterodox social science to call the entire status quo into question. Michael Huemer shows that common sense, common decency, and careful observation are more than up to the job.