.. I want to show how a sort of moral thinking the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle gave us—today called virtue ethics—illuminates the “libertarian attitude” of skepticism, distrust of power, and an attraction to freedom of choice about how we live our lives ..
My libertarianism, then, is an attitude about state power, but it’s an attitude grounded in the idea that the sort of life I ought to live—the sort of person I ought to be—means that I should reject the state in all but its most minimal form.
There’s something morally distasteful about both exercising state power and wanting the state to exercise power, about the desire to use the state’s monopoly on violent force to get your way.
Instead of virtue, the state often displays its opposite, vice. Instead of wisdom, the state acts with foolishness.
This shouldn’t surprise us. The state’s power makes it attractive to the unvirtuous. If you enjoy the use of force, there’s no better spot to do it than within government. If you want to rig the rules in your favor, the state’s where you turn. If you have an urge to rule, the best place for that is obvious.
Skepticism finds its source in thinking that a person must not be very wise if he thinks he can run other people’s lives better than they can. Distaste for power grows from watching the imperiousness of politicians and the officious meddling of bureaucrats. And a deep caring for others as beings worthy of respect leads us to reject calls to override their judgements with the opinions of majorities or elites.
Very nearly everything the state does is either vicious or foolish, which is why the state so often appears as a cudgel wielded by clowns. So we have good reason to be skeptical of its claims to virtue and wisdom and its pleas for more power. A libertarian attitude finds itself on firm ground.