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To: x
You and #3 may very well have a point that a subjective theory of value (worth) is not a subjective theory of values (ethics). But what then is Mises theory of ethics or his attitude towards it? There is no reason why Mises should have such a theory since he works in a different field. But if he is taken to be so very important and essential a thinker by many, would the absence of such ethical views and the glorification of Mises have a harmful effect on the ethical views of his votaries?

In libertarian theory, a clear line is made between private ethics and public ethics. Each man should govern himself by the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. A virtuous man should live by this maxim. He should be a good father and husband, as the right would want. He should help the poor and the less fortunate, as the left proclaims.

While this dictum is an excellent guide for your own life, you make a serious mistake if you attempt to force others to apply it to theirs. It is, in fact, a violation of the Golden Rule to attempt to force others to act virtuously. Would you like it if someone else forced his ethical priorities on you? Why should I be a family man, after all? Perhaps, like mother Theresa, I feel that a vow of chastity and dedication to the poor is more important. Or something I am better able to do. Similarly, the man who devotes himself to his family is honorable, even if he never contributes to charity.

Thus, you must be less ambitious when judging the morality of others. Instead of insisting that they do good, all you can ask is that they do not do evil. As the Buddha said “hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful”. This negative version of the Golden Rule is what the libertarian calls the Principle of the non-initiation of force.

This, in a nutshell is libertarian morality. Forcing others to do good is a mistake which ultimately leads to totalitarianism. Conservatives understand that forcing people to care for the poor creates poverty. Why is it so hard to understand that forcing people to care for their family destroys the family?

One of the principles of the Common Law, that magnificent achievement of a free market in law, was that a man could not be forced to care for his children unless it was under his own roof. When that principle was violated in the 1920s, the stage was set for the modern catastrophe called divorce. The state had invented a new form of the family in which a man could be forced to continue to act as husband and father against his will while his wife abandoned her duties. Unsurprisingly, many women do precisely that.

Mises and Hayek were intensely ethical men. Most libertarians are. Imposing your ethics on other people is, in itself, unethical. Show by example or by argument. But never use force.

32 posted on 02/07/2002 3:52:24 PM PST by Architect
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To: Architect
That is a very well written summation. I don't find anything to disagree with in it. I do note that people do want to proclaim principles of this sort and give them some sort of authority above and beyond mere commercial transactions. They want some kind of official embodiment or institutionalization of ethical principles because of the fear that they will be lost amongst all the competing products and lifestyles available in the marketplace. Some critics miss this kind of enunciation or establishment of principles in the theories of libertarians they encounter. Other critics will want to institutionalize or establish more and more principles using government, though that doesn't usually work.
33 posted on 02/07/2002 8:39:06 PM PST by x
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