Presented by Roderick T. Long, this ten-lecture seminar surveys the praxeological foundations of libertarian ethics. Hosted at the Mises Institute, 26-30 June 2006.Download the complete audio of this event (ZIP) here.
1. Objective and Subjective Value
Praxeology is a set of conceptual tools about the theory of action. It is the basis of economic theory. Whereas much has been fleshed out about the economics of human action, there is little about the ethics and natural rights of human action.
2. The Praxeological Case for an Ultimate End
Claims of ultimate ends, like happiness or well-being, are impossible, says Hobbes. In this life, the fact that you are still acting shows that you have not achieved any ultimate end. Does action really express dissatisfaction? You can act to keep something happening, rather than to try to change things.
3. Free Will: Two Paradoxes of Choice
Economics deals with the preferences you are actually acting on. The judgment you are not acting on could still be around. So, action does not imply total judgment.
4. The Moral Standpoint
Why should I care about anyone else but myself? We each have our own values to pursue. Is all valuation relative or neutral? The values we actually use seem to be agent neutral. We endorse these values both for ourselves and for others. Hobbes says that in a state of nature it is legitimate for everybody to do what they want. Socrates said that once you recognize that something is worth admiring, you will integrate it into your life.
5. An Aristotelian Ethics of Virtue
Everyone has an ultimate end. What should the content of this end be? No concept of happiness exists without integrating the interest of others. Being an agent is being a living organism. Living organisms have needs. Aristotle feels humans are neither beasts nor God. Morality requires a minimum of prudence (self) and benevolence (others).
6. Justice, Rights, and Consequences
Now we go from ethics to liberty. Justice, narrowly, is a legitimately enforceable claim. What is the consideration between justice, rights and utility? Justice seems more rule-oriented than rights. Libertarian rights theory can consider consequences.