Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? Episode 03: "FREE TO CHOOSE" | Summary and Q&A

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September 8, 2009
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Harvard University
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Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? Episode 03: "FREE TO CHOOSE"

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Summary

This video explores the libertarian philosophy and its arguments against taxation and redistribution of wealth. The discussion revolves around the idea of self-possession, which is the belief that individuals own themselves and have the right to keep the fruits of their labor. The libertarians argue that taxation and redistribution violate this principle and amount to theft and coercion. They also argue that the poor needing the money more or the successful owing a debt to society do not justify the violation of property rights. On the other hand, some objections are raised, such as the need for social stability and the role of democracy in decision-making. The video ends with the suggestion to examine John Locke's account of private property and self-ownership in the next discussion.

Questions & Answers

Q: What are the main objections to the libertarian argument against redistribution of wealth?

The main objections include the belief that the poor need the money more than the wealthy, the idea that taxation by the consent of the governed is not coercion, and the argument that the successful owe a debt to society for their wealth.

Q: How do libertarians respond to the objection that the poor need the money more?

Libertarians argue that even though the poor may need the money more, it does not justify violating property rights. They believe that people have the right to keep the fruits of their labor and that wealth redistribution is not a valid solution.

Q: How do libertarians respond to the objection that taxation by the consent of the governed is not coercion?

Libertarians believe that even if taxation is consented to through the democratic process, it is still coercion because it violates the principle of self-ownership. They argue that an individual should have the right to decide how to use their property, including their earnings.

Q: How do libertarians respond to the objection that the successful owe a debt to society?

Libertarians argue that the success of individuals is not solely their own doing, but the result of voluntary exchanges and the value society places on their contributions. They believe that in a free market system, individuals have already provided a service to society in exchange for their wealth.

Q: Is it wrong to steal in order to meet the immediate needs of oneself or one's family?

Libertarians generally argue that it is wrong to steal, even in cases of extreme necessity. They believe in respecting property rights and that violating these rights is fundamentally unjust.

Q: Is the fundamental premise of self-possession necessary for the libertarian argument?

Yes, the idea of self-possession is crucial to the libertarian argument. It is the belief that individuals own themselves and have the right to their own person and property. Without this premise, the argument against coercion and in favor of property rights loses its foundation.

Q: How does the libertarian argument relate to the utilitarian philosophy?

The libertarian argument directly opposes utilitarianism, which focuses on the collective happiness and views individuals as means to that end. Libertarians argue for individual rights and ownership, emphasizing the importance of self-possession and rejecting the idea of using people for the sake of others.

Takeaways

The video highlights the libertarian perspective on taxation and redistribution of wealth, focusing on the philosophy of self-possession. Libertarians argue that individuals own themselves and have the right to keep the fruits of their labor. They believe that taxation and redistribution violate this principle, amounting to theft and coercion. The concept of self-possession is crucial to the libertarian argument against using people as means and for upholding individual rights. The objections raised against this philosophy, like the needs of the poor and the role of democracy, are addressed, but the fundamental premise of self-possession remains central to the libertarian perspective.

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