What is Libertarianism? – Part 2
Dave Killion — September 6, 2010
In my first post on this topic, I gave this definition –
“Libertarianism is the recognition that individuals own themselves, and as such, have the right to live their lives in any manner they see fit, provided they don’t encroach on the equal and identical rights of any other individual.”
The first step to fleshing this definition out is to examine what is meant by ownership. Simply put, when one owns something, one has the right to control the disposition of that thing. Say that you own a tea mug. Of course you may use it to drink tea, but you may wish to give to someone, or perhaps sell it. You may wish to store it for future use, or you may wish to destroy it. No one may rightfully interfere with you in these matters, because you own your mug.
But what if you are angry with your neighbour and you want to use the mug to smash his car windshield with it? Sorry, but your ownership of the mug doesn’t outweigh your neighbour’s ownership of his windshield. The right to control the disposition of things you own does not extend to using those things to violate the rights of others.
In my next post on this topic, I’ll explain how we know that individuals own themselves.
Disclaimer: The articles and opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Libertarian Book Club.