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Libertarian Group: Dee and Elijah Speaking
Current speaker Current speakerElijah and I agree on a lot of the concepts and principles that are fundamental to libertarianism. The difference is that I am a right libertarian and he is a left libertarian. We'll get to that later.

For now, we want to lay out some of the basic concepts and principles. Here's a list of some of the most important concepts:

Libertarianism: Basic Concepts

  • Self-ownership

  • Individual natural rights
    (including property rights)

  • Minimal government

Each of these concepts is fundamental. Let's take them one at a time and see what they mean and what principles embody them.

Libertarianism: Principles and Views

  • Self-ownership means that each of us 'owns' himself or herself. That sounds metaphorical. What it means, according to libertarian philosopher Peter Vallentyne, is that each of us has the same control over himself or herself that an owner has over an inanimate object like a chair or an automobile. Just as important -- NO ONE ELSE has similar control (or even partial control) unless you give it to them.

  • Individual natural rights follow from self-ownership. We have these rights because we are human beings. They do not derive from government. (Hence the term 'natural.') As a matter of principle, libertarians assert that each of us has the right to determine where we go, with whom we associate, What Americans Believe, how we worship, what we do sexually, what we take into our bodies, and so forth. Individual rights also include property rights (although left and right libertarians disagree on some important issues connected with property).

  • Minimal government means that government should confine itself to enforcing our rights. To do so, it must protect us from aggression and enforce our voluntary agreements. Since our natural rights exist independent of government action, government has no right to change or eliminate them. As a matter of principle, we assert that government should protect our rights and do no more.

Links (opening in a new window)

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Libertarianism

Wikipedia article: Libertarianism

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