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Free Will, Determinism and Libertarianism

From: NS
Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2017 4:31 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re YouTube Video https://youtu.be/VqPKMkMrQ2M
Walter, I assume you’re familiar with the YouTube video of your talk on anarcho-capitalism at https://youtu.be/VqPKMkMrQ2M. I just watched it and concluded that while you are an anarcho-capitalist you are not a libertarian. How can this be since you accept the non-aggression principle?

It’s this: Because you believe human beings are constrained, or impelled, by evolutionary biology you’re a determinist, no less a behaviorist than B.F. Skinner. Your regarding those like you who favor freedom as evolutionary mutations is no exemption from the principle you consider dominant and controlling that survivable genes determine what people think. You don’t believe in either free will or, for that matter, free thought. Your pessimism regarding libertarian success — that evolution favors one set of political beliefs over another — is conceding all to the enemies of freedom who do see human beings merely as a product of breeding — aristocracy — or of proper molding — every variation of progressivism from Prussianism to communism onward. It makes you lecturing on the principles of liberty either absurd or futile — what I would tag the Principle of Marginal Futility. I write you to inform you of your error because I do believe in free will and free thought and believe you are free to correct intellectual mistakes. Now, as to the cause of libertarianism failing to dominate, it’s that libertarians make another mistake. They consider that libertarians like me who believe libertarian ideas need to win the culture through literature, drama, movies, and other arts are far less important than libertarians who engage in academic pursuits, business, or politics. Ayn Rand knew better. Sincerely, NS

Dear NS: I never ever meant to say “constrained,” or “impelled.” If I did, I apologize for my poor choice of words. (Did I do so? I doubt it. Hey, that video is 2 hours long. You expect me to listen to myself for that time period? If you’d told me at what point you think I said this, I’d have followed up). But, you know how it is: in an interview, or extemporaneous speech (I don’t read my public talks, I wing it), sometimes the wrong word comes up. What I meant to say, what I should have said, is that sociobiological considerations bias us in an anti market direction. Or lead us, or predispose us. There is only a tendency for humans to be socialists. If we were really “constrained,” or “impelled” by biology, then NONE of us could be libertarians, and obviously, you and I, and MILLIONS of others, are indeed libertarians. I think we are mutants. Not that we libertarians were born that way (most of us were not, I was not), but that at least we were OPEN to being convinced by rational argument. This applies to all too few of us. And this is due, I insist, to sociobiological considerations.

As for determinism and free will, I am clearly in the latter camp:

Block, Walter E. 2015. “Free will, determinism, libertarianism and Austrian economics” Dialogue, Issue 3, p.1; http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/110798998/free-will-determinism-libertarianism-austrian-economics

Edelstein, Michael, Robert Wenzel, and Bridgette Salcido. 2016. “A Response to Walter Block’s “Free Will, Determinism, Libertarianism and Austrian Economics”.” Dialogue E-Journal of Tsenov Academy 4 (2015): n. pag. 17 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 February. http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/title.asp?title=516

Van Schoelandt, Chad, Ivan Jankovic and Walter E. Block. 2016. “Rejoinder on Free Will, Determinism, Libertarianism and Austrian Economics.” Dialogue, Issue 2; http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/title.asp?lang=en&title=565;,%20Determinism,%20Libertarianism%20and%20Austrian%20Economics.EML/1_multipart_xF8FF_2_p565__DialogueBook2eng2016_81_95.pdf/C58EA28C-18C0-4a97-9AF2-036E93DDAFB3/p565__DialogueBook2eng2016_81_95.pdf?attach=1;


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