Two Constructions of Libertarianism
Libertarians believe that all individuals are entitled to live as they choose, free from interference by other persons or by the state. They also believe that in the absence of such interference, whether by government or other agents of the state intent on designing or planning for society as a whole, order will nonetheless prevail. Given the freedom to contract and exchange, markets will coordinate the production and distribution of goods—and indeed do so better than any other institution can. But it is the first belief that is theoretically distinctive, and distinguishes libertarians from others, such as free-market utilitarians like Jeremy Bentham. For libertarians think that what is most important is to defend the freedom of individuals to live without being victims of aggression by others—against their persons, or against the property they have rightly acquired.
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