When many people hear the word libertarian they think of a political movement that is made up of anti war activists who advocate and support the use of harmful substances and narcotics, the endorsement of prostitution and the free choice to abort an unborn baby, as well as other various behaviors that can be considered degenerate and degrading in nature. This of course could not be further from the truth (except for the anti war part). The cornerstone of Libertarian political philosophy can be described as it relates to the non-aggression principle, (NAP), and the preservation of private property rights in one’s physical person and property acquired through voluntary trade and contracts or by homesteading unused land to turn natural resources into beneficial goods. The non aggression principle, or axiom, forbids the use of force, violence, or coercion against a person’s physical body or private property unless it is in response to aggressive force or an imminent threat of violence. Self defense is permitted and actually a righteous and moral behavior. An act of violence or coercion against a person or his property violates this principle of non aggression and fully compromises the libertarian philosophy down to its fundamental maxim. Libertarians support the maximization of free choice and the absence of coercion. People have an absolute right to eat what they want, drink what they want, snort what they want, inject what they want, and smoke what they want. The freedom to put substances into your own body no matter how healthy or unhealthy or even how dangerous they may be, is tantamount to a free society and individualism. The choices some people make may be ill advised but it is not up to a central government who has a monopoly on force to make laws prohibiting individuals from making their own choices. The fact of the matter is, a libertarian society would be based on the non aggression principle and private property, and any and all violations of this key principle would be punishable under a private law system. This is an objective principle and without this rudimentary idea of non aggression, the whole philosophy begins to break down.
In a libertarian world, and more specifically an anarcho capitalist society which is based on the NAP, private property, private law, privatization of goods and services, and laissez faire economics, the crimes that would be punishable under the retributive theory of proportional punishment would include and are not limited to murder, rape, theft of private property, assault, unjust war crimes, and abortion. Any other behaviors or acts that do not violate the non aggression principle would not be punishable by private law, however, these behaviors and values could still be considered objectively immoral from a philosophical point of view. It is crucial when discussing libertarianism to make clear and precise distinctions when doing a comparison of what should be legal or illegal and what is or is not moral. I believe morality is objective and subjective morality is an easy way out of actually having to sit down and dissect the truth about natural law and how it relates to human nature. Moral subjectivism and moral relativism leaves doors wide open when discussing the ethics of morality. It allows political correctness to rear its ugly head in support of cultural norms that may advocate violence and coercion in the name of religion or some other cultural more. Subjectivity when it comes to the non aggression principle is illogical and defies the principles of rational thinking. There is such a thing as natural law as it relates to the human species and any attempt to distort these laws to accommodate an irrational person who says “morality is subjective and I see an ethical issue this way” is intellectually dishonest and should not be taken seriously. I base morality on rationality and on whether or not the behavior is self destructive and causes the person to act inhumanely amongst other guiding tenets.
“Value in the sense of valuation or utility is purely subjective, and decided by each individual. This procedure is perfectly proper for the formal science of praxeology, or economic theory, but not necessarily elsewhere. For in natural-law ethics, ends are demonstrated to be good or bad for man in varying degrees; value here is objective—determined by the natural law of man’s being, and here “happiness” for man is considered in the commonsensical, contentual sense” – Murray Rothbard.
To sum up, I think you can be free and have the right to act immorally as long as these actions and behaviors do not violate the NAP, which would then subject the person to an appropriate punishment. So what should be legal and also considered immoral? The use of all drugs should be legal but is considered immoral if it suspends and alters the brain’s perception of reality, is addictive in nature, and has neurotoxic properties that are harmful to a person on a physiological, psychological, and sociological level. Exceptions when considering the morality of drug use could be made if it is used for medicinal purposes or if used in moderation to achieve a rational goal or ends.
Promiscuity and prostitution should be legal and only violate NAP if people are forced into prostitution or sex slavery. Voluntary prostitution must be legal in a free society, however, these acts are degrading and almost always performed in the absence of rational thought. Sexual acts should be done to satisfy desires based on feelings and love or some sort of attraction. Prostitution is the act of indiscriminately having sex with someone with no regard for either party’s well- being and with no feelings or emotions present. It is in essence a bodily sacrifice, which entails abuse to your body and long term adverse effects to mental stability. To engage in sexual acts haphazardly and unrestrained with hundreds or thousands of partners over a period of time is objectively immoral and irrational.
People should be free to worship and believe however they see fit as long as it does violate the NAP. I would stand up for the freedom of non violent and non coercive religious activities, however, religion is immoral since it is used to indoctrinate vulnerable and susceptible children into believing something with blind faith and always with the threat of eternal damnation looming in the back of their undeveloped innocent minds. Religion makes otherwise rational and decent people do deplorable and unmentionable things in the name of faith and superstition. The mental faculties that allow us to think and reason and be logical are dramatically slowed down, and often banished from the mind once religious dogma takes hold of our sensibilities, and our thirst for knowledge and truth is quenched away. It is highly immoral. It must be legal though unless it violates the NAP. Although, some religious acts should be outlawed.
Altruism and charity under most circumstances can be seen as immoral. Self –sacrifice, enabling someone who exhibits incessant and seemingly unfixable behavior that is self-destructive and illogical through donations, giving to charity for your own self- aggrandizement and upward mobility in social circles are all aspects of what it means to be charitable in the modern world we inhabit and these are the reasons charity and altruism are immoral. Charity should be given with conditions and stipulations attached in a very intimate setting between the least amount of people as possible, as this will make the results of your charitable donations more manageable and easier to monitor. Private investment and capitalism are the best ways to create wealth and get people out of poverty.
Animals cannot petition for rights and do not have the capacity to reason. Animals do not have rights. It is perfectly fine for humans to hunt animals for food and protect their property from animals who threaten to destroy it. Humans may treat animals harshly but this would be immoral. “If a man shoots his dog because the animal is no longer capable of service, he does not fail in his duty to the dog, for the dog cannot judge, but his act is inhuman and damages in himself that humanity which it is his duty to show towards mankind. If he is not to stifle his human feelings, he must practice kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men” – Immanuel Kant.
If we live in a world that respects private property and the non aggression principle I think we have made the world a much better place. I also think it is important to act morally based on rationality and natural laws of human behavior. We must never use aggressive and unwarranted force against one another and behavior and vices that do not violate NAP should not be regulated in a free society. It is up to the individual to become virtuous.