In a previous post, I stated that people have a variety of libertarian ownership rights. The post covered self-ownership rights, world-ownership rights, and some considerations related to the nature of those rights. In this post, I will consider the implications that I believe these ownership rights have on the permissible activities of a state.
Libertarianism is notorious in its rejection of regulations by the state that many see as morally permissible. For example, libertarians often reject forms of wealth redistribution, welfare states, and social safety nets. Libertarians believe that, even if these programs produce good outcomes, to coerce people into supporting these programs via mandatory taxation (which is backed by the threat of physical force by the state if one doesn’t pay their taxes) is to violate their ownership rights over their property and their body.The point is that we have ownership rights over our bodies and our legitimately acquired property (i.e. property which was acquired without the violation of any else’s rights); therefore, to control (or threaten control of) someone else’s bodies or property without their consent is to violate those rights. Many libertarian philosophers (anarchists) have taken this point to claim that all mandatory taxation is unjust. If this claim is correct, then it seems that libertarianism is committed to the rejection of the state, as most conceptions of the state involve (among other things) mandatory taxation of its citizens. This post will argue that this conclusion is incorrect. I will argue that an adequate justification of the state can be provided on broadly libertarian grounds.