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Dr. Massimo Pigliucci thinks so. He had this to say:

"From the Objectivist’s exceedingly narrow view of rights it logically follows that their ideas about the proper role of government are equally narrow: police, armed services, and courts of law, and that’s about it. Even some of my Objectivist friends (oh yes, I do have some!) grudgingly admit that those restrictions simply won’t do. We need regulatory agencies to control, for instance, the quality of our air and water, or of our food, or the functionality of our sources of energy (especially nuclear plants, but also oil drilling operations). If simply left to the “wisdom” of the market, countless people would suffer, become ill, or die before the companies responsible for whatever bad practice were forced out of business, even under the best (and often entirely unrealistic) assumptions about the efficiency of market forces."

Would turning public welfare programs like the EPA, over to the private sector, lead to suffering and illness?

asked Feb 18 '14 at 19:57

KineticPhilosophy's gravatar image


edited Feb 23 '14 at 15:01

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Why is suffering the proper standard here?

(Feb 18 '14 at 22:38) Andrew Dalton ♦ Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image


Suffering is not being used as a standard, but as a presumed consequence.

(Feb 18 '14 at 23:24) KineticPhilosophy KineticPhilosophy's gravatar image

...the Objectivist political view of Minarchism....

"Minarchism" is not an Objectivist term. Objectivism does not describe its political principles using that term. According to the Wikipedia article on "Minarchism": "Samual Edward Konkin III, an agorist, coined the term minarchism in 1971 to describe libertarians who defend some form of government." The Objectivist view of politics, however, was first stated publicly in Atlas Shrugged in 1957 and again in 1961 (TOE), with further elaboration in 1963 ("The Nature of Government"). It wasn't until some years later that the term "minarchism" was coined. Furthermore, most libertarian views of politics and government were inspired by Ayn Rand's views, though without a deeper philosophical foundation. As an example of accepting consequences while ignoring their causes, Ayn Rand's 1974 article on "Philosophical Detection" (PWNI Chap. 2) noted:

There are sundry "libertarians" who plagiarize the Objectivist theory of politics, while rejecting the metaphysics, epistemology and ethics on which it rests.

Applying the term "minarchism" to Objectivism is very misleading, historically and philosophically, insofar as that term may suggest that Objectivism came on the scene after various forms of libertarianism, including minarchism, and that Objectivism politically happens to be a form of minarchism. It is minarchism that borrows (or steals) from Objectivism, not vice versa.

It would also be highly misleading to describe Objectivism as a form of libertarianism, again reversing cause and effect and substituting an a priori political view for a complete philosophy. No one should confuse Objectivism and its political principles with libertarianism.

Another confusion in the excerpt quoted in the question is failure to recognize that laissez-faire capitalism is the system of individual rights which government exists to protect. Insofar as anyone's actions infringe on the individual rights of others, government can and should intervene. Issues of individual rights would not be left to the mechanism of a free market under full laissez-faire capitalism. This applies to air pollution, nuclear safety, oil drilling safety, and so on. (For an Objectivist view of pollution, refer to that topic in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.)

Issues merely of product quality (such as water and food quality), which do not constitute violations of anyone's individual rights, would leave everyone free to decide for themselves what level of quality they are willing to offer and pay for. If there is any fraud involved (willful misrepresentation of product quality), it could, depending on the specifics, fall more into the category of individual rights violations than purely economic issues of supply and demand and the financial costs of production and delivery.

Political freedom also leaves innovators fundamentally free to innovate (so long as they don't infringe others' individual rights), potentially benefiting the entire society as a byproduct of the innovators' efforts. A system of pervasive government regulation does not do that; it does the exact opposite, suppressing innovation of all kinds in all regulated fields, in the form of broad-brush prohibitions on anything that doesn't pass through the heavy hand of bureaucratic "red tape" and pressure-group warfare. And regulations don't stand still; they grow over time, relentlessly and ever more overwhelmingly.

answered Feb 22 '14 at 03:16

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: Feb 18 '14 at 19:57

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Last updated: Feb 23 '14 at 15:01