In my view, the questions moral philosophers grapple with are as interesting and important to libertarianism as those posed by political philosophers. As an advocate for a free society in which people themselves are the moral arbiters rather than government, I believe it is my responsibility to think long and hard about the moral rules I adopt to guide my behavior. The underlying assumption of libertarianism is that people have the ability to act civilly without having a gun pointed at their heads but we must back up this assumption if we want our political philosophy to be taken seriously. Each of us has to set an example by being able to articulate, defend, and advocate for our own moral principles of social interaction, not so that we can force everyone to follow one conception of morality, but to ensure that we are all thinking critically about the principles that we live by and to prove that the libertarian ideal is possible. Libertarians are generally pretty good at explaining how strangers would interact in a free society, but we rarely consider how our relationships with the people we love influence our choices, economic and otherwise, which affect the rest of society in a myriad of ways, good and bad. As individuals with only so much time, attention, and money to devote to others, we must balance competing motivations when coordinating with other people. Love is a powerful motivation and just as important as the standard self-interest that guides our interactions with strangers.
As libertarians, it requires virtually no provocation for us to proclaim support for the liberties of all humans. Rights to life, property, and expression are values many of us consider as natural and logical as the law of gravity, and we’d defend our positions in a heartbeat to anyone who might suggest that we not be afforded these freedoms. Not heard often, however, is an argument for perhaps a more complicated liberty that is deserving of deeper contemplation and support in the movement: the right to choose one’s death. (more…)