Pierre Teilhard De Chardin Information


(1) Science and Christ

(2) Appearance Of Man

(3) Christianity and Evolution

(4) Let Me Explain

(5) The Phenomenon of Man

(6) The Future of Man

(7) Toward the Future

(8) Heart of Matter

(9) Letters to Two Friends

(10) The Divine Milieu

(11) Writings in Time of War

(12) Letters From A Traveler

(13) Human Energy

(14) Hymn of the Universe

(15) Man’s Place in Nature

(16) On Love and Happiness

(17) Vision of the Past

(18) Letters to Lucile Swan

(19) Letters to Leontine Zanta

(20) Activation of Energy

(21) The Making of a Mind

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Summary, for those in a hurry:

Memetics deals with information transfer, specifically cultural information in society. The basic idea is to conflate the exchange of information between people with genetic material, to track the mutation of ideas as they are transmitted from one person to the next in the way you could track viral transmissions and mutations. However, a meme also provides benefits to the carrier if they spread it.

Meme : Memetics :: Gene : Genetics

Memetics does NOT refer to telepathy, ESP or any imaginary psychic mental magic. These words are memetic, and if you understand them then they are having a completely ordinary memetic effect on you.

Memetics in regards to SCP objects tends to focus on the impossible rather than the mundane, regarding effects that are transmitted via information. In general, the effects themselves should remain in the realm of information. A memetic SCP would be more likely to be a phrase that makes you think you have wings as opposed to a phrase that makes you actually grow a pair of wings. If you write up magic words that make people grow wings, it should be described as something other than memetic.

Memetic SCPs do not emanate auras or project beams. They are SCPs which involve ideas and symbols which trigger a response in those who understand them.

Memetic is often incorrectly used by new personnel as the official sounding term for “Weird Mind Shit.” However, that is not actually what memetic means. These words are memetic. They are producing a memetic effect in your mind right now, without any magical mind rays lashing out of your computer monitor to grasp your fragile consciousness. Memes are information, more specifically, cultural information.

Outside of the Foundation’s walls the concept of memetics is not taken very seriously; it is a theory that conflates the transfer of cultural information with evolutionary biology.

meme : memetic :: gene : genetic

The idea was that certain memes prosper and others wither the same way certain genes produce stronger offspring that out-compete creatures with different genes. Also, it is easy to compare the spread and mutation of information to the spread of a virus. The reason we use the term memetic in our work is largely due to this, as the truly dangerous memes out there can spread like wildfire due to the fact that the very knowledge of them can count as an infection.

Understanding the true nature of memetic threats is critical to surviving them. You cannot wear a special set of magical goggles made of telekill to protect yourself from a meme. THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING. If you just read those words in your head with a bad Teutonic accent, congratulations on being victim to yet another memetic effect. If you did not know that phrase was an oft-repeated quote from the Simpsons then congratulations; you are now infected with that knowledge and are free to participate in its spread.

A meme perpetuates itself by being beneficial to the carrier to spread to new hosts. You now understand that THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING; you’re in on the joke. However, you might have friends who aren’t, and don’t get it. It benefits you to explain them, because then you both have something new to laugh together about when it gets brought up. This is what makes a meme effective – how much incentive a carrier has to spread it. Unless an anomalous meme’s effect is the compulsive urge for the carrier to infect others, there needs to be incentive to spread it.

An artifact can no more have a memetic aura or project a memetic beam than a creature could have a genetic aura or genetic beam. Even though you could imagine a creature with genes that allow it to produce some kind of aura or beam like a big doofy X-man, remember that the examples we have of such creatures in containment are not getting their super-powered emanations from anything resembling our scientific understanding of genetics and biology. Neither are the memetic artifacts. We contain these things specifically because we cannot understand or explain them yet. At the end of the day we’re still using a clumsy concept to describe things we don’t have a full grasp of.

It is very rare that anything with a dangerous memetic component could be described as hostile to begin with. We do not contain memetic threats because they are out to get us. They are threats because it is dangerous for us to merely perceive them. It is exceptionally rare for dangerous memes to even have anything resembling sapience with the exception of certain known entities which exist entirely within the medium of “cultural information” such as SCP-, SCP-732 and SCP-423.

A dangerous meme is basically a trigger that sets off something inside of you that you may or may have not been aware of. What would your knee jerk reaction be to knowing that your rival is sleeping with your one true love? How would you react if you were to unwittingly catch them in the act? That kind of sudden revelation can make a mild mannered citizen into a killer, so don’t be surprised that there are other strange bits of information out there that can break the human mind in different yet equally drastic ways.

Protecting yourself from memetic threat is very tricky and can be worse than the threat itself. There are reasons that we behave the way we do, there are reasons our emotions soar when we hear just the right combination of sounds in a piece of music. Do you want to stop thinking about the Simpsons or your obnoxious nerdy friends that quote it every time you hear the phrase THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING? That would require forgetting about the Simpsons and your friends.

Do you want to survive hearing or reading the phrase ” ?” Well, sadly we don’t quite know what other information you need to forget or know to prevent [DATA EXPUNGED] but we’re getting better. Lobotomies and pills help, and are one of the few times that the cure is not worse than the disease. The sum total of our human condition; our cultural knowledge and upbringing and memories and identity; this is what makes us susceptible to the occasional memetic compulsion.

So it’s not the basalt monolith or its bizarre carvings that is making you strangle your companions with your own intestines, the problem was within you all along.

Should you ever find yourself under a memetic compulsion and aware of the fact, remember that there are certain mental exercises that you can perform which may save your life or the lives of your companions. Changing the information your mind is being presented with may just change how you react to it, and the more abrupt or absurd the change is the better.

Imagine the fearsome entity is wearing a bright pink nightgown. Draw a mustache on the haunted painting. Pee on the stone altar. Wear the terrible sculpture like a hat.

And if all else fails, bend over and kiss your ass goodbye. I’m not kidding. That could actually help.

– Dr. Johannes Sorts received a special dispensation to use the word “doofy” in this document

But seriously

This was originally intended as a piece of fiction on its own before it got stuck into the information bar with plenty of other plainly out-of-character writing guides. So here’s the important things to take away:

1 – “Memetics” is a specific concept regarding information exchange. It has nothing to do with telepathy or ESP or psychic compulsions.

2 – SCP-148 has no effect on anything memetic. Don’t screw this up or we will give you an incredibly hard time about it.

3 – Psychic compulsions are lame and you should think twice before using them in your new SCP, even if you avoid misusing the term “memetic” when you do it.

4 – Sorts’ Rule for all memetic SCPs is “Memetic effect + crazy to death = failure.”

5 – Wear it like a haaaaat!!

Read more here:

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Memetics and Infohazards Division Orientation – SCP Foundation

Alright everybody, welcome to the orientation for the memetics and infohazards division. Now this is a full week of training, and a long day so be sure to get some coffee or a donut, because we won’t have time to go get food until lunch.

I’m Junior Researcher Zack Ekshun, and, I, ah, yes? A question like ‘How am I perceiving this message from that very handsome man saying other words?’ or ‘Whose voice does this sound like in my head?’ But those are not the most important questions right now.Question?

Why aren’t I having any coffee or donuts? Heh, looks like we have at least one veteran of the reality benders orientation. Well to put your mind at ease, why don’t you get me some coffee and a donut or two. Usually I take it black, but add some milk and sugar just to cover all the bases. Hey sprinkles! Nice.

Now, you’re right to be suspicious. You get lied to a lot at the Foundation. Little things like ‘We only put tracking chips in D-class’, ‘This will be the first time you receive amnestics’ and the location of the site you’re currently sitting in.

Some of you. But today, I’m going to be completely honest with you.

Which gets us to the important part, you don’t have to worry about us secretly feeding you drugs. We will be very openly feeding you lots of powerful hallucinogens.

The reason we’re not bothering to hide it is because, like most infohazards, our psychedelic testing regimen works whether or not you know about it ahead of time. The reason we’re making you trip balls is that we need to make sure you can handle your shit regardless of what your brain thinks is going on.

It doesn’t matter if the walls are melting and cats with your grandmothers’ face are telling you the secret history of the world. You write your reports, conduct tests and follow the containment procedures. You document everything the grandma cats tell you and ride it out until you punch out. Most of the time. What’s in your head can’t hurt you unless you let it.

To work with infohazards you need to notice when things don’t make sense, and this is the important part, respond accordingly. Do you suddenly have a spouse you didn’t this morning? Well, maybe you shouldn’t consummate that relationship. Were you always taking advice from the omnidimensional blood gods you’re thinking about building a shrine to? Maybe instead you should talk to your supervisor, because we sure don’t need another prophet to Welcome.

Hey! That got everybody’s attention. Yeah, part of what you’ll learn is how not to say things. Did you know that Hi% of redacted information is memetic censoring? It’s written there as clear as day, if you have the clearance and counterprogramming. Want to know how it’s done?

Well first Welcome to the real orientation. If you can perceive this then you’ll be working with us in the real Memetics and Infohazards Division. It should come as no surprise to you that there are many layers to our Division. Everyone else nodding out right now are just the cover. They will be playing an important role in misdirection and counterintelligence as well as handling all the busywork. Misdirection is basic info manipulation. Everyone worried about drugs or their suppository tracking devices misses the important stuff.You get to do the real work, and it takes more than just a week to get you to that level. This week will provide the basics the others get, with the real preparatory seminars transmitted through a variety of unconventional channels. The testing has already begun to see who can pick up all of it. The full spectrum of information all around us is invisible to the sleepwalkers drooling next to you.You all carry some form of the Sorry gene which is present in .NO% of the population, which the Foundation screens for. While you can perceive this you also have an increased risk for schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder. But don’t worry! If you’ve made it this far you have a much higher likelihood of being driven mad by your work material than your genetic makeup. The number of informational channels you can perceive determines your rank and assignments.The other good news is your training and conditioning will minimize the likelihood of either occurring. We have discovered through trial and error how to protect our minds against very dangerous hazards. The many division members who retired to psychiatric wards are a testament to that. You will learn to lucid dream, which is where much of your practice will take place. You will undergo intensive psychological testing to make sure you do not join our alumni. You will practice meditation until you achieve the level of Zen master and float above your superfluous programming completely. You will be taught the akashic scripts and meta-languages which bypass the frontal cortex and tap directly into the primal drives. If you make it to the upper echelons you’ll learn manipulation commands like kill words, after a few minor surgeries to your trachea. We will let you know when you are ready. The pioneers who discovered the safe procedures for containing lethal infohazards in your mind never got a chance to retire. But even if you can detect individual phomemes you are still a green as grass rookie.Not only will you be able to work with cognitohazard and memetic SCPs you will help to develop the neurocognitive counter-programming and anti-memes that will shield you, your colleagues, and society from the gibbering madness lurking in containment. You will make the Foundation, safer, saner, productive, and unquestioning in their commitment. You will bend the archetypes from our collective unconscious to your will to secure, contain, and protect us all. Welcome again, and congratulations. [REDACTED]

Alllright everybody back? Yup, for those of you not keeping track that was almost an hour you aren’t going to remember until you earn it. Exactly none of you have the training or clearance to know any of that. Yet.

We’re going to teach you to walk through fire, feel like your brain is melting out of your ears and still keep going. We will put your minds in the forge and hammer at them until they are stronger than steel. Mind affecting and weird psychic SCPs will slide off you, and information based containment breaches will be just another day at the office.

Deeper Ad Infinitum-The repetitive nature of complimenting your attention to detail and knowledge of the myriad means of hiding information is becoming redundant. You will still receive instruction, but and undetected up until now. Clever you.clearly you have already been conducting your own training regimen.

Well played.

You’ve earned a little more candor. The genetic explanation for who can expand their senses to perceive the hidden full spectrum of information is untrue as far as we can ascertain. We do not know why some people are attuned to and can reshape the deeper orders of information. We do not yet understand the mechanisms of the majority of SCPs. Hence anomalousThe reality benders should not be able to do anything they do, and they still do it, even when we tell them not to. Except the ones who do as they are told..

We have many layers to protect both the Foundation and ourselves. There is no good that can come from the suggestion that the collective minds of our division is an SCP in and of itself. This has been suggested, but has been Auto-amnestic conditioning is much more efficient than the pharmacological option.dealt with. We have a presence at the top tier with Division founder O5-NO. We also have several site directors with varying degrees of awareness they are ours.

We are telling you this so that you know you are valued and will be protected. We are telling you this so you will STOP what you are planning. Right. Now.

We know you have been planning how to get fast tracked for promotion to a director position. Planning to use the information based SCPs in ways the sleepwalkers can’t conceive. Planning to program select people’s neural schemas to satisfy your whims. You need to forget all of that. NOW.

This is the one thing you should NEVER question.Trust us. By yourself you will inevitably endanger yourself, the Foundation, and our Division. We have done it all better than you could ever hope to. We will teach you how to correctly maximize your potential. We need fellow travelers, not megalomaniacal lone wolves. We Won’tcan’t program you not to, Right now. It is much better for all involved that you join willingly. so we are asking nicely. Please, kindly do NOT fuck with us.

We’ll be in touch.

How well you can handle your shit is an important component of training, and there will be pharmacological hallucinatory tutorials just for you. Have fun in the desert with the lizard king.Because it is chock full of drugsIt’s also pretty funny watching you rooks spaz out..

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Memetics and Infohazards Division Orientation – SCP Foundation

Max More – Wikipedia

Max More (born Max T. O’Connor, January 1964) is a philosopher and futurist who writes, speaks, and consults on advanced decision-making about emerging technologies.[1][2]

Born in Bristol, England, More has a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University in St Anne’s College, Oxford (1987).[3][4] His 1995 University of Southern California doctoral dissertation The Diachronic Self: Identity, Continuity, and Transformation examined several issues that concern transhumanists, including the nature of death, and what it is about each individual that continues despite great change over time.[5]

Founder of the Extropy Institute, Max More has written many articles espousing the philosophy of transhumanism and the transhumanist philosophy of extropianism,[6] most importantly his Principles of Extropy.[7][8] In a 1990 essay “Transhumanism: Toward a Futurist Philosophy”,[9] he introduced the term “transhumanism” in its modern sense.[10]

More is also noted for his writings about the impact of new and emerging technologies on businesses and other organizations. His “proactionary principle” is intended as a balanced guide to the risks and benefits of technological innovation.[11]

At the start of 2011, Max More became president and CEO of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, an organization he joined in 1986.[12]

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Max More – Wikipedia

Transhumanism | social and philosophical movement …

social and philosophical movement

Transhumanism, social and philosophical movement devoted to promoting the research and development of robust human-enhancement technologies. Such technologies would augment or increase human sensory reception, emotive ability, or cognitive capacity as well as radically improve human health and extend human life spans. Such modifications resulting from the addition of biological or physical technologies would be more or less permanent and integrated into the human body.

The term transhumanism was originally coined by English biologist and philosopher Julian Huxley in his 1957 essay of the same name. Huxley refered principally to improving the human condition through social and cultural change, but the essay and the name have been adopted as seminal by the transhumanism movement, which emphasizes material technology. Huxley held that, although humanity had naturally evolved, it was now possible for social institutions to supplant evolution in refining and improving the species. The ethos of Huxleys essayif not its lettercan be located in transhumanisms commitment to assuming the work of evolution, but through technology rather than society.

The movements adherents tend to be libertarian and employed in high technology or in academia. Its principal proponents have been prominent technologists like American computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil and scientists like Austrian-born Canadian computer scientist and roboticist Hans Moravec and American nanotechnology researcher Eric Drexler, with the addition of a small but influential contingent of thinkers such as American philosopher James Hughes and Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. The movement has evolved since its beginnings as a loose association of groups dedicated to extropianism (a philosophy devoted to the transcendence of human limits). Transhumanism is principally divided between adherents of two visions of post-humanityone in which technological and genetic improvements have created a distinct species of radically enhanced humans and the other in which greater-than-human machine intelligence emerges.

The membership of the transhumanist movement tends to split in an additional way. One prominent strain of transhumanism argues that social and cultural institutionsincluding national and international governmental organizationswill be largely irrelevant to the trajectory of technological development. Market forces and the nature of technological progress will drive humanity to approximately the same end point regardless of social and cultural influences. That end point is often referred to as the singularity, a metaphor drawn from astrophysics and referring to the point of hyperdense material at the centre of a black hole which generates its intense gravitational pull. Among transhumanists, the singularity is understood as the point at which artificial intelligence surpasses that of humanity, which will allow the convergence of human and machine consciousness. That convergence will herald the increase in human consciousness, physical strength, emotional well-being, and overall health and greatly extend the length of human lifetimes.

The second strain of transhumanism holds a contrasting view, that social institutions (such as religion, traditional notions of marriage and child rearing, and Western perspectives of freedom) not only can influence the trajectory of technological development but could ultimately retard or halt it. Bostrom and American philosopher David Pearce founded the World Transhumanist Association in 1998 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with those social institutions to promote and guide the development of human-enhancement technologies and to combat those social forces seemingly dedicated to halting such technological progress.

Britannica Lists & Quizzes

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Transhumanism | social and philosophical movement …

Bitcoin Cash News: Visa Debit Card for Bitcoin Cash …

Bitcoin Cash (BCC) is not about to let Bitcoin (BTC) take all the limelight amidst the CBOE futures launch, and Roger Ver, the most vocal advocate of BCC, has just Tweeted that Bitcoin.com is going to come out with a Bitcoin Cash Visa debit card.

The rivalry between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash is well known now, as the latters proponent, Roger Ver, has continued to claim that Bitcoins August 1, 2017 fork BCC, is the real Bitcoin as per the original guidelines in the 2009 whitepaper by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.

According to Roger, Bitcoin Core, the development team behind BTC has failed the cryptocurrency, as is evident from its high transaction fees and delays. He also regularly stresses on the need for a digital currency to be globally accessible and feasible to use, even in economically weak regions such as Africa.

His response to Bitcoins shortcomings is Bitcoin Cash, which has a larger block size (8MB compared to Bitcoins 1MB – making for a larger number of transactions to be processed within the 10-minute period it takes to process new blocks) and consequently smaller fees and faster transaction processing.

However, the Bitcoin community has not been very receptive to what they believe is an attempt to subvert the original coin, leading to a rift between supporters of Bitcoin and those of Bitcoin Cash.

Now, with a possible Visa debit card solution coming out, Bitcoin Cashs price is likely to surge as it becomes easily spendable something that cannot be said for Bitcoin, which was recently dropped by Steam, the game publishing portal, due to high fees and delays.

While there are other solutions (TenX and Monaco) for users looking to spend their digital currency via debit cards, a native solution provided by Bitcoin Cash may be what is needed to further crypto adoption and actual spending, which is considered healthy for the market.


Bitcoin Cash News: Visa Debit Card for Bitcoin Cash …

Cyberpunk 2020 – Wikipedia

Cyberpunk, mainly known by its second edition title Cyberpunk 2020, is a cyberpunk role-playing game written by Mike Pondsmith and published by R. Talsorian Games in 1988. Because of the release in 1990 of the second edition, set in a fictional 2020, the first edition is often now referred to as Cyberpunk 2013, following the fictional year, 2013, in which the game was set when it was first released in 1988. The third edition, published by R. Talsorian Games in 2005, is referred to as Cyberpunk V3.0 and is set further along the same fictional timeline as the former editions, during the 2030s.

This role-playing game is based on the works of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and other authors of the “Mirrorshades group”. The game includes a number of elements now associated with the 1980s,[citation needed] such as the idea of style over substance and glam rock.

The game tends to emphasize some aspects of the source material more than others. Much of the focus of the game is paid to combat, high-tech weaponry and cybernetic modification; however, performance-enhancing and recreational drug use is either played down or discouraged. Although artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and cloning are barely mentioned in the core rulebook they are reintroduced in later add-ons such as the chromebook manuals.

The range of characters players can adopt is diverse, ranging from hardwired mercenaries with psycholinked weapons and boosted reflexes, to Armani-wearing corporate mega-yuppies who make and break national economies with the stroke of a pen.

Cyberpunk 2020 is the second edition of the original game, Cyberpunk 2013, often just called “Cyberpunk.” It was originally published as a boxed set in 1988, and R. Talsorian released a few supplements for this edition, including Rockerboy, Solo of Fortune, and Hardwired, the latter based on the Walter Jon Williams novel of the same name. Another supplement was Near Orbit (made obsolete by Deep Space in Cyberpunk 2020)

The second edition featured rules updates and changes, and additionally moved the timeline forward by 7 years, to 2020. The game’s timeline was also retconned to accommodate the German reunification in 1990.

The basic rules system of Cyberpunk 2020 (called the Interlock System) is skill-based instead of level-based, with players being awarded points to be spent on their skill sets. New skills outside their expertise can be learned but in-game time needs to be spent on this. A large part of the system is the player characters’ ability to augment themselves with cyber-technology and the ensuing loss of humanity as they become more machine than man.

Cyberpunk 2020 claims to lend itself to play in the street level, dark film noir genre, but certain aspects of the basic system can influence game sessions toward a high body-count, 1980s action movie style.

Although each player must choose a character class or “role” from those given in the basic rules, there is enough variation in the skill system so that no two members of the same class are alike. Because Cyberpunk 2020 is skill-based, the choice of skills around the class-specific special ability allows a wide range of character development choices including non-combatants.

The combat system, called “Friday Night Firefight”, emphasizes lethality. Several pages in the rules are devoted to discussing real combat vs. the illusions often seen on TV. Attempts are made to keep the combat as realistic as possible in a game setting. No matter who the character is, a single bullet can result in a lethal wound. This encourages a more tactically oriented and thought-out game play, which is in accordance to the rough-and-gritty ethos of the Cyberpunk genre. Also, the amount of damage a character can sustain does not increase as the character develops. The only way a character can become more damage resistant is to either become better at not being hit, physically augment their body with muscle (trained or implanted) or cybernetics, or wear armor.

Cyberpunk 2020, as the name implies, takes place in the year 2020. The game’s default setting is the fictional Night City, a city of five million people on the west coast of the United States located between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is described as being near San Jose but the map puts it closer to Monterey. Later supplements to the game have contained information about the rest of the US and the world.

Following a vast socio-economical collapse and a period of martial law, the United States government has had to rely on several megacorporations to survive. This has given them a veritable carte blanche to operate as they will.

The Cyberpunk 2020 equivalent of character classes are roles, of which the main rulebook contains 9, and later supplements have expanded the number considerably. Each role has a special ability which gives a character a unique edge.

The game’s backstory had a series of powerful characters that influenced the world of Cyberpunk.

Firestorm was supposed to be the bridge between Cyberpunk 2020 (the 2nd edition rules and milieu) and Cyberpunk V.3 (the 3rd Edition rules and milieu). Its purpose was to shake up everything and get players prepared for the new background they were cooking up.

Set in 2023, the backstory has two deep-ocean-based megacorporations dueling for control over a third one (the period known as the “Ocean War”). When it escalates into open warfare, they each hire mercenaries. One hires the Japanese diversified technology and security services firm Arasaka and the other hires the American military technology and mercenary services firm Militech.

During the conflict, the long-standing bitter rivalry between Arasaka and Militech causes them to forget about their customers and go for each other. In the beginning they feud quietly (the phase called the “Shadow War”). But the covert war between the two heats up, becoming the Fourth Corporate War.

In the course of the adventure setting, the characters are hired to hunt down a pesky netrunner who is making their anonymous employer unhappy. Little do they realize that the hacker is the infamous (and already “dead”) Rache Bartmoss. Regardless of what they do, their employer pinpoints the apartment with an orbital mass-driver and vaporizes it.

Set in 2024, the second part of the Firestorm series sees Arasaka mobilize the Japanese Defense Force to take on Militech and the American military in a series of “proxy conflicts” (the phase dubbed the “Hot War”).

Waves of cyberviruses corrupt databases worldwide, leaving the isolated Arasaka Towers arcology in Night City the last viable data storage mainframe in the world.

Militech gathers together the surviving meta-characters and a Special Forces team played by the player characters into a “super team”. Their job: to take out Arasaka’s Night City arcology with a tactical nuke to deny its assets to Arasaka.

Then they find out that Alt Cunningham, who was captured by Arasaka earlier, is trapped inside the mainframe. Of course, Johnny won’t let Alt die a second time, so the team tries to break her out.

The end result is that the meta-characters go out in a blaze of glory. Johnny Silverhand dies at the hands of Arasaka’s cyborg assassin Adam Smasher in order to buy Spider Murphy enough time to break Alt into a series of datapackets and downloads her into the Net. Morgan Blackhand then takes on Adam Smasher atop Arasaka Towers while the rest of the team gets extracted out. The outcome of the duel is greatly disputed because the low-yield tactical nuke the team deployed sets off the 2-kiloton “self destruct” bomb Arasaka had placed in its data core. This destroyed much of downtown Night City and contaminated the ruins and anything downwind of it with lethal fallout.

The long-awaited third volume, Aftershock promised to tie all the loose ends together and herald the end of the old Cyberpunk 2020 (or “Cyberpunk V.2”) game world and usher in the beginning of the new Cyberpunk 2030 (or “Cyberpunk V.3”) game world. It was later cancelled and its material was folded into the Cyberpunk 203X rules book.

Cybergeneration takes place in an alternate future of the core Cyberpunk 2020 timeline, where a nanotech virus epidemic has resulted in a subgroup of teenagers with unusual, superhuman skills. It began as a supplement that still required the Cyberpunk 2020 rulebook, but the second edition became a standalone game.

Ever since the 1998 release of the Cyberpunk 2020 sourcebook Firestorm: Shockwave, fans of the game had been waiting for a third edition of the Cyberpunk game, known as Cyberpunk 203X. Over the years, the entire project had at times been discounted as vaporware, its delays due to other projects and Pondsmith’s involvement in the development of The Matrix Online.[citation needed]

The game was released first in PDF form on December 17, 2005 and as a conventional book on January 15, 2006.

The setting has been heavily updated from its last event book series, Firestorm, which covered the opening of the Fourth Corporate War. The aftermath of the Fourth Corporate War has resulted in widespread corruption of the Net and major losses of hardcopied data, to the point that all data is intangible and recent recorded history is in doubt. An example that pops up in Pondsmith’s demos at conventions, releases on the Internet, and in the finished game is that history has become so corrupted that many people in the world now believe Richard Nixon, instead of resigning over Watergate, committed suicide on camera and that memes such as the moon landing being hoaxed become prevalent.

The war has also led to the collapse of nations, the world economy, and many of the staple megacorporations. This civil upheaval leads to the rise of the “altcults”, alternative cultures similar in vein to the “phyles” from Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age. In fact, Cyberpunk V.3 has more to do with the new postcyberpunk literary movement and transhumanism than with the Gibson-Sterling mirrorshades movement.

In addition to rules changes to the Fuzion system and background, Cyberpunk V.3 also uses concepts taken from Pondsmith’s experience at Microsoft with computer and video games as well as corporate culture, such as a simpler character generation system using templates, web-based active content URL links for updates, and making groups, organizations, and corporations their own “characters”.

In addition, there is also the Fallen Angels, space-bound scavengers, the Ghosts, people who have uploaded their minds, and the Neo-Corps, the surviving corporations of the Cyberpunk 2020 world that are now organized in the form of organized crime syndicates. However, the six listed above are the only ones that have been mentioned in deep detail.

Two Cyberpunk 2020 novels have been published, both written by Stephen Billias:

Two different, independent collectible card games have been licensed and produced based on the Cyberpunk setting. The first, called Netrunner, was designed by Richard Garfield, and released by Wizards of the Coast in 1996. The second was called Cyberpunk CCG, released in 2003, designed by Peter Wacks and published by Social Games.

Cyberpunk was ranked 10th in the 1996 reader poll of Arcane magazine to determine the 50 most popular roleplaying games of all time. The UK magazine’s editor Paul Pettengale commented: “Cyberpunk was the first of the ‘straight’ cyberpunk RPGs, and is still the best. The difference between cyberpunk and other sci-fi is a matter of style and attitude. Everything about the Cyberpunk game, from the background to the rules system, is designed to create this vital atmosphere. Cyberpunk is set in an unforgiving world where betrayal and double-crosses are common, trust is hard to find and paranoia is a useful survival trait.”[3]

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Cyberpunk 2020 – Wikipedia

Cyberpunk Blog

If you havent seen it yet, heres a link to a very insightful behind-the-scenes material showing all the details and nuances that went into making of the Cyberpunk 2077 debut teaser trailer.


City lights, fog, strangers passing by Watch Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the pen-and-paper RPG Cyberpunk 2020 and learn about his inspirations for creating a dystopian metropolis of Night City.

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The long-awaited video for Cyberpunk 2077 has finally arrived! You can watch it here in all its glory.


Two weeks ago we asked you to share with us your favourite CyberPunk dish.The response was excellent, and there were some succulently lengthy posts. Read more


Here at CD Projekt Red we are inspired by many different types of games, not only cyberpunk games. And INSPIRED is the key word here. Taking one feature from game A, another from game B and yet another from game C doesnt mean that final product will be a game of A+B+C quality. There is actually a high chance that if the process of adapting features wasnt done carefully or mixed properly, then the final game will be a disaster the sum of a bunch of things that do not work well together. And no one want to end up with Cyberpunk game like that, right?

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Cyberpunk Blog

Posthuman – Wikipedia

Posthuman or post-human is a concept originating in the fields of science fiction, futurology, contemporary art, and philosophy that literally means a person or entity that exists in a state beyond being human.[1] The concept addresses questions of ethics and justice, language and trans-species communication, social systems, and the intellectual aspirations of interdisciplinarity. Posthumanism is not to be confused with transhumanism (the nanobiotechnological enhancement of human beings) and narrow definitions of the posthuman as the hoped-for transcendence of materiality.[2] The notion of the posthuman comes up both in posthumanism as well as transhumanism, but it has a special meaning in each tradition. In 2017, Penn State University Press in cooperation with Stefan Lorenz Sorgner and James Hughes (sociologist) established the “Journal of Posthuman Studies” in which all aspects of the concept “posthuman” can be analysed.[3]

In critical theory, the posthuman is a speculative being that represents or seeks to re-conceive the human. It is the object of posthumanist criticism, which critically questions humanism, a branch of humanist philosophy which claims that human nature is a universal state from which the human being emerges; human nature is autonomous, rational, capable of free will, and unified in itself as the apex of existence. Thus, the posthuman position recognizes imperfectability and disunity within him or herself, and understands the world through heterogeneous perspectives while seeking to maintain intellectual rigour and a dedication to objective observations. Key to this posthuman practice is the ability to fluidly change perspectives and manifest oneself through different identities. The posthuman, for critical theorists of the subject, has an emergent ontology rather than a stable one; in other words, the posthuman is not a singular, defined individual, but rather one who can “become” or embody different identities and understand the world from multiple, heterogeneous perspectives.[4]

Critical discourses surrounding posthumanism are not homogeneous, but in fact present a series of often contradictory ideas, and the term itself is contested, with one of the foremost authors associated with posthumanism, Manuel de Landa, decrying the term as “very silly.”[5] Covering the ideas of, for example, Robert Pepperell’s The Posthuman Condition, and Hayles’s How We Became Posthuman under a single term is distinctly problematic due to these contradictions.

The posthuman is roughly synonymous with the “cyborg” of A Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway.[6] Haraway’s conception of the cyborg is an ironic take on traditional conceptions of the cyborg that inverts the traditional trope of the cyborg whose presence questions the salient line between humans and robots. Haraway’s cyborg is in many ways the “beta” version of the posthuman, as her cyborg theory prompted the issue to be taken up in critical theory.[7] Following Haraway, Hayles, whose work grounds much of the critical posthuman discourse, asserts that liberal humanism – which separates the mind from the body and thus portrays the body as a “shell” or vehicle for the mind – becomes increasingly complicated in the late 20th and 21st centuries because information technology puts the human body in question. Hayles maintains that we must be conscious of information technology advancements while understanding information as “disembodied,” that is, something which cannot fundamentally replace the human body but can only be incorporated into it and human life practices.[8]

The idea of post-posthumanism (post-cyborgism) has recently been introduced.[9][10][11][12][13] This body of work outlines the after-effects of long-term adaptation to cyborg technologies and their subsequent removal, e.g., what happens after 20 years of constantly wearing computer-mediating eyeglass technologies and subsequently removing them, and of long-term adaptation to virtual worlds followed by return to “reality.”[14][15] and the associated post-cyborg ethics (e.g. the ethics of forced removal of cyborg technologies by authorities, etc.).[16]

Posthuman political and natural rights have been framed on a spectrum with animal rights and human rights.[17]

According to transhumanist thinkers, a posthuman is a hypothetical future being “whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current standards.”[18] Posthumans primarily focus on cybernetics, the posthuman consequent and the relationship to digital technology. The emphasis is on systems. Transhumanism does not focus on either of these. Instead, transhumanism focuses on the modification of the human species via any kind of emerging science, including genetic engineering, digital technology, and bioengineering.[19]

Posthumans could be completely synthetic artificial intelligences, or a symbiosis of human and artificial intelligence, or uploaded consciousnesses, or the result of making many smaller but cumulatively profound technological augmentations to a biological human, i.e. a cyborg. Some examples of the latter are redesigning the human organism using advanced nanotechnology or radical enhancement using some combination of technologies such as genetic engineering, psychopharmacology, life extension therapies, neural interfaces, advanced information management tools, memory enhancing drugs, wearable or implanted computers, and cognitive techniques.[18]

As used in this article, “posthuman” does not necessarily refer to a conjectured future where humans are extinct or otherwise absent from the Earth. As with other species who speciate from one another, both humans and posthumans could continue to exist. However, the apocalyptic scenario appears to be a viewpoint shared among a minority of transhumanists such as Marvin Minsky[citation needed] and Hans Moravec, who could be considered misanthropes, at least in regard to humanity in its current state. Alternatively, others such as Kevin Warwick argue for the likelihood that both humans and posthumans will continue to exist but the latter will predominate in society over the former because of their abilities.[20] Recently, scholars have begun to speculate that posthumanism provides an alternative analysis of apocalyptic cinema and fiction, often casting vampires, werewolves and even zombies as potential evolutions of the human form and being.[21]

Many science fiction authors, such as Greg Egan, H. G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Bruce Sterling, Frederik Pohl, Greg Bear, Charles Stross, Neal Asher, Ken MacLeod, Peter F. Hamilton and authors of the Orion’s Arm Universe,[22] have written works set in posthuman futures.

A variation on the posthuman theme is the notion of a “posthuman god”; the idea that posthumans, being no longer confined to the parameters of human nature, might grow physically and mentally so powerful as to appear possibly god-like by present-day human standards.[18] This notion should not be interpreted as being related to the idea portrayed in some science fiction that a sufficiently advanced species may “ascend” to a higher plane of existencerather, it merely means that some posthuman beings may become so exceedingly intelligent and technologically sophisticated that their behaviour would not possibly be comprehensible to modern humans, purely by reason of their limited intelligence and imagination.[23]

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Posthuman – Wikipedia

What is Transhumanism?

The human desire to acquire posthuman attributes is as ancient as the human species itself. Humans have always sought to expand the boundaries of their existence, be it ecologically, geographically, or mentally. There is a tendency in at least some individuals always to try to find a way around every limitation and obstacle.

Ceremonial burial and preserved fragments of religious writings show that prehistoric humans were deeply disturbed by the death of their loved ones and sought to reduce the cognitive dissonance by postulating an afterlife. Yet, despite the idea of an afterlife, people still endeavored to extend life. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (approx. 2000 B.C.), a king embarks on a quest to find an herb that can make him immortal. Its worth noting that it was assumed both that mortality was not inescapable in principle, and that there existed (at least mythological) means of overcoming it. That people really strove to live longer and richer lives can also be seen in the development of systems of magic and alchemy; lacking scientific means of producing an elixir of life, one resorted to magical means. This strategy was adopted, for example, by the various schools of esoteric Taoism in China, which sought physical immortality and control over or harmony with the forces of nature.

The Greeks were ambivalent about humans transgressing our natural confines. On the one hand, they were fascinated by the idea. We see it in the myth of Prometheus, who stole the fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans, thereby permanently improving the human condition. And in the myth of Daedalus, the gods are repeatedly challenged, quite successfully, by a clever engineer and artist, who uses non-magical means to extend human capabilities. On the other hand, there is also the concept of hubris: that some ambitions are off-limit and would backfire if pursued. In the end, Daedalus enterprise ends in disaster (not, however, because it was punished by the gods but owing entirely to natural causes).

Greek philosophers made the first, stumbling attempts to create systems of thought that were based not purely on faith but on logical reasoning. Socrates and the sophists extended the application of critical thinking from metaphysics and cosmology to include the study of ethics and questions about human society and human psychology. Out of this inquiry arose cultural humanism, a very important current throughout the history of Western science, political theory, ethics, and law.

In the Renaissance, human thinking was awoken from medieval otherworldliness and the scholastic modes of reasoning that had predominated for a millennium, and the human being and the natural world again became legitimate objects of study. Renaissance humanism encouraged people to rely on their own observations and their own judgment rather than to defer in every matter to religious authorities. Renaissance humanism also created the ideal of the well-rounded personality, one that is highly developed scientifically, morally, culturally, and spiritually. A milestone is Giovanni Pico della Mirandolas Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486), which states that man does not have a ready form but that it is mans task to form himself. And crucially, modern science began to take form then, through the works of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.

The Age of Enlightenment can be said to have started with the publication of Francis Bacons Novum Organum, the new tool (1620), in which he proposes a scientific methodology based on empirical investigation rather than a priori reasoning. Bacon advocates the project of effecting all things possible, by which he meant the achievement of mastery over nature in order to improve the condition of human beings. The heritage from the Renaissance combines with the influences of Isaac Newton, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Marquis de Condorcet, and others to form the basis for rational humanism, which emphasizes science and critical reasoning rather than revelation and religious authority as ways of learning about the natural world and the destiny and nature of man and of providing a grounding for morality. Transhumanism traces its roots to this rational humanism.

In the 18th and 19th centuries we begin to see glimpses of the idea that even humans themselves can be developed through the appliance of science. Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire speculated about extending human life span through medical science. Especially after Darwins theory of evolution, atheism or agnosticism came to be seen as increasingly attractive alternatives. However, the optimism of the late 19th century often degenerated into narrow-minded positivism and the belief that progress was automatic. When this view collided with reality, some people reacted by turning to irrationalism, concluding that since reason was not sufficient, it was worthless. This resulted in the anti-technological, anti-intellectual sentiments whose sequelae we can still witness today in some postmodernist writers, in the New Age movement, and among the neo-Luddite wing of the anti-globalization agitators.

A significant stimulus in the formation of transhumanism was the essay Daedalus: Science and the Future (1923) by the British biochemist J. B. S. Haldane, in which he discusses how scientific and technological findings may come to affect society and improve the human condition. This essay set off a chain reaction of future-oriented discussions, including The World, the Flesh and the Devil by J. D. Bernal (1929), which speculates about space colonization and bionic implants as well as mental improvements through advanced social science and psychology; the works of Olaf Stapledon; and the essay Icarus: the Future of Science (1924) by Bertrand Russell, who took a more pessimistic view, arguing that without more kindliness in the world, technological power will mainly serve to increase mens ability to inflict harm on one another. Science fiction authors such as H. G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon also got many people thinking about the future evolution of the human race. One frequently cited work is Aldous Huxleys Brave New World (1932), a dystopia where psychological conditioning, promiscuous sexuality, biotechnology, and opiate drugs are used to keep the population placid and contented in a static, totalitarian society ruled by an elite consisting of ten world controllers. Huxleys novel warns of the dehumanizing potential of technology being used to arrest growth and to diminish the scope of human nature rather than enhance it.

The Second World War changed the direction of some of those currents that result in todays transhumanism. The eugenics movement, which had previously found advocates not only among racists on the extreme right but also among socialists and progressivist social democrats, was thoroughly discredited. The goal of creating a new and better world through a centrally imposed vision became taboo and pass; and the horrors of the Stalinist Soviet Union again underscored the dangers of such an approach. Mindful of these historical lessons, transhumanists are often deeply suspicious of collectively orchestrated change, arguing instead for the right of individuals to redesign themselves and their own descendants.

In the postwar era, optimistic futurists tended to direct their attention more toward technological progress, such as space travel, medicine, and computers. Science began to catch up with speculation. Transhumanist ideas during this period were discussed and analyzed chiefly in the literary genre of science fiction. Authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Stanislaw Lem, and later Bruce Sterling, Greg Egan, and Vernor Vinge have explored various aspects of transhumanism in their writings and contributed to its proliferation.

Robert Ettinger played an important role in giving transhumanism its modern form. The publication of his book The Prospect of Immortality in 1964 led to the creation of the cryonics movement. Ettinger argued that since medical technology seems to be constantly progressing, and since chemical activity comes to a complete halt at low temperatures, it should be possible to freeze a person today and preserve the body until such a time when technology is advanced enough to repair the freezing damage and reverse the original cause of deanimation. In a later work, Man into Superman (1972), he discussed a number of conceivable improvements to the human being, continuing the tradition started by Haldane and Bernal.

Another influential early transhumanist was F. M. Esfandiary, who later changed his name to FM-2030. One of the first professors of future studies, FM taught at the New School for Social Research in New York in the 1960s and formed a school of optimistic futurists known as the UpWingers. In his book Are you a transhuman? (1989), he described what he saw as the signs of the emergence of the transhuman person, in his terminology indicating an evolutionary link towards posthumanity. (A terminological aside: an early use of the word transhuman was in the 1972-book of Ettinger, who doesnt now remember where he first encountered the term. The word transhumanism may have been coined by Julian Huxley in New Bottles for New Wine (1957); the sense in which he used it, however, was not quite the contemporary one.) Further, its use is evidenced in T.S. Elliots writing around the same time. And it is known that Dante Alighieri referred to the notion of the transhuman in historical writings.

In the 1970s and 1980s, several organizations sprung up for life extension, cryonics, space colonization, science fiction, media arts, and futurism. They were often isolated from one another, and while they shared similar views and values, they did not yet amount to any unified coherent worldview. One prominent voice from a standpoint with strong transhumanist elements during this era came from Marvin Minsky, an eminent artificial intelligence researcher.

In 1986, Eric Drexler published Engines of Creation, the first book-length exposition of molecular manufacturing. (The possibility of nanotechnology had been anticipated by Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman in a now-famous after-dinner address in 1959 entitled There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom.) In this groundbreaking work, Drexler not only argued for the feasibility of assembler-based nanotechnology but also explored its consequences and began charting the strategic challenges posed by its development. Drexlers later writings supplied more technical analyses that confirmed his initial conclusions. To prepare the world for nanotechnology and work towards it safe implementation, he founded the Foresight Institute together with his then wife Christine Peterson in 1986.

Ed Regiss Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition (1990) took a humorous look at transhumanisms hubristic scientists and philosophers. Another couple of influential books were roboticist Hans Moravecs seminal Mind Children (1988) about the future development of machine intelligence, and more recently Ray Kurzweils bestselling Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), which presented ideas similar to Moravecs. Frank Tiplers Physics of Immortality (1994), inspired by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a paleontologist and Jesuit theologian who saw an evolutionary telos in the development of an encompassing noosphere, a global consciousness) argued that advanced civilizations might come to have a shaping influence on the future evolution of the cosmos, although some were put off by Tiplers attempt to blend science with religion. Many science advocates, such as Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Douglas Hofstadter, have also helped pave the way for public understanding of transhumanist ideas.

In 1988, the first issue of the Extropy Magazine was published by Max More and Tom Morrow, and in 1992 they founded the Extropy Institute (the term extropy being coined as an informal opposite of entropy). The magazine and the institute served as catalysts, bringing together disparate groups of people with futuristic ideas. More wrote the first definition of transhumanism in its modern sense, and created his own distinctive brand of transhumanism, which emphasized individualism, dynamic optimism, and the market mechanism in addition to technology. The transhumanist arts genre became more self-aware through the works of the artist Natasha Vita-More. During this time, an intense exploration of ideas also took place on various Internet mailing lists. Influential early contributors included Anders Sandberg (then a neuroscience doctoral student) and Robin Hanson (an economist and polymath) among many others.

The World Transhumanist Association was founded in 1998 by Nick Bostrom and David Pearce to act as a coordinating international nonprofit organization for all transhumanist-related groups and interests, across the political spectrum. The WTA focused on supporting transhumanism as a serious academic discipline and on promoting public awareness of transhumanist thinking. The WTA began publishing the Journal of Evolution and Technology, the first scholarly peer-reviewed journal for transhumanist studies in 1999 (which is also the year when the first version of this FAQ was published). In 2001, the WTA adopted its current constitution and is now governed by an executive board that is democratically elected by its full membership. James Hughes especially (a former WTA Secretary) among others helped lift the WTA to its current more mature stage, and a strong team of volunteers has been building up the organization to what it is today.

Humanity+ developed after to rebrand transhumanism informing Humanity+ as a cooperative organization, seeking to pull together the leaders of transhumanism: from the early 1990s: Max More, Natasha Vita-More, Anders Sandberg; the late 1990s: Nick Bostrom, David Pearce, James Hughes; the 2000s: James Clement, Ben Goertzel, Giulio Prisco and many others. In short, it is based on the early work of Extropy Institute and WTA.

In the past couple of years, the transhumanist movement has been growing fast and furiously. Local groups are mushrooming in all parts of the world. Awareness of transhumanist ideas is spreading. Transhumanism is undergoing the transition from being the preoccupation of a fringe group of intellectual pioneers to becoming a mainstream approach to understanding the prospects for technological transformation of the human condition. That technological advances will help us overcome many of our current human limitations is no longer an insight confined to a few handfuls of techno-savvy visionaries. Yet understanding the consequences of these anticipated possibilities and the ethical choices we will face is a momentous challenge that humanity will be grappling with over the coming decades. The transhumanist tradition has produced a (still evolving) body of thinking to illuminate these complex issues that is unparalleled in its scope and depth of foresight.

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What is Transhumanism?

San Diego Art Institute

TENDREMENT, a pop-up exhibition, is an exploration of the aesthetic tension between past, present, and future. SDAI invites viewers to navigate a posthuman environment mired in traces of what once was,and what is to come-with artwork alluding to sentiments of intimacy, nostalgia, pain, and identity.

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San Diego Art Institute

Donald Trump | Us-news | The Guardian

Malcolm Turnbull says Australia will not support the EU if it lodges a dispute about Donald Trumps tariffs Published: 9:39 PM . Australia will not join any EU complaint to WTO over steel tariffs. Break the cycle Trump school safety proposal to call for armed staff and raising gun-buying age. President will call for minimum age for buying …

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Donald Trump | Us-news | The Guardian

Donald Trump: Latest News, Top Stories & Analysis – POLITICO

President Donald Trumps version of March Madness: A week of shuffling staff and, perhaps, a controversial policy proposal.

As POLITICOs Dan Diamond reports, President Trump is finalizing a plan for opioids that includes the death penalty for dealers. Its part of an ambitious plan to address the opioid epidemic a topic that Trump has said is a top priority.

The ambitious plan, which the White House has quietly been circulating among political appointees this month, could be announced as soon as Monday when President Donald Trump visits New Hampshire, a state hard hit by the epidemic. It includes a mix of prevention and treatment measures that advocates have long endorsed, as well as beefed-up enforcement in line with the presidents frequent calls for a harsh crackdown on drug traffickers and dealers.

The part likely to grab headlines, however, is Trumps call for the highest punishment for dealers an unprecedented step.

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Donald Trump: Latest News, Top Stories & Analysis – POLITICO

libertarianism | Definition, Doctrines, History, & Facts …

Libertarianism, political philosophy that takes individual liberty to be the primary political value. It may be understood as a form of liberalism, the political philosophy associated with the English philosophers John Locke and John Stuart Mill, the Scottish economist Adam Smith, and the American statesman Thomas Jefferson. Liberalism seeks to define and justify the legitimate powers of government in terms of certain natural or God-given individual rights. These rights include the rights to life, liberty, private property, freedom of speech and association, freedom of worship, government by consent, equality under the law, and moral autonomy (the ability to pursue ones own conception of happiness, or the good life). The purpose of government, according to liberals, is to protect these and other individual rights, and in general liberals have contended that government power should be limited to that which is necessary to accomplish this task. Libertarians are classical liberals who strongly emphasize the individual right to liberty. They contend that the scope and powers of government should be constrained so as to allow each individual as much freedom of action as is consistent with a like freedom for everyone else. Thus, they believe that individuals should be free to behave and to dispose of their property as they see fit, provided that their actions do not infringe on the equal freedom of others.

Liberalism and libertarianism have deep roots in Western thought. A central feature of the religious and intellectual traditions of ancient Israel and ancient Greece was the idea of a higher moral law that applied universally and that constrained the powers of even kings and governments. Christian theologians, including Tertullian in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, stressed the moral worth of the individual and the division of the world into two realms, one of which was the province of God and thus beyond the power of the state to control.

Libertarianism also was influenced by debates within Scholasticism on slavery and private property. Scholastic thinkers such as Aquinas, Francisco de Vitoria, and Bartolom de Las Casas developed the concept of self-mastery (dominium)later called self-propriety, property in ones person, or self-ownershipand showed how it could be the foundation of a system of individual rights (see below Libertarian philosophy). In response to the growth of royal absolutism in early modern Europe, early libertarians, particularly those in the Netherlands and England, defended, developed, and radicalized existing notions of the rule of law, representative assemblies, and the rights of the people. In the mid-16th century, for example, the merchants of Antwerp successfully resisted the attempt by the Holy Roman emperor Charles V to introduce the Inquisition in their city, maintaining that it would contravene their traditional privileges and ruin their prosperity (and hence diminish the emperors tax income). Through the Petition of Right (1628) the English Parliament opposed efforts by King Charles I to impose taxes and compel loans from private citizens, to imprison subjects without due process of law, and to require subjects to quarter the kings soldiers (see petition of right). The first well-developed statement of libertarianism, An Agreement of the People (1647), was produced by the radical republican Leveler movement during the English Civil Wars (164251). Presented to Parliament in 1649, it included the ideas of self-ownership, private property, legal equality, religious toleration, and limited, representative government.

In the late 17th century, liberalism was given a sophisticated philosophical foundation in Lockes theories of natural rights, including the right to private property and to government by consent. In the 18th century, Smiths studies of the economic effects of free markets greatly advanced the liberal theory of spontaneous order, according to which some forms of order in society arise naturally and spontaneously, without central direction, from the independent activities of large numbers of individuals. The theory of spontaneous order is a central feature of libertarian social and economic thinking (see below Spontaneous order).

The American Revolution (177583) was a watershed for liberalism. In the Declaration of Independence (1776), Jefferson enunciated many liberal and libertarian ideas, including the belief in unalienable Rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness and the belief in the right and duty of citizens to throw off such Government that violates these rights. Indeed, during and after the American Revolution, according to the American historian Bernard Bailyn, the major themes of eighteenth-century libertarianism were brought to realization in written constitutions, bills of rights, and limits on executive and legislative powers, especially the power to wage war. Such values have remained at the core of American political thought ever since.

During the 19th century, governments based on traditional liberal principles emerged in England and the United States and to a smaller extent in continental Europe. The rise of liberalism resulted in rapid technological development and a general increase in living standards, though large segments of the population remained in poverty, especially in the slums of industrial cities.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many liberals began to worry that persistent inequalities of income and wealth and the tremendous pace of social change were undermining democracy and threatening other classical liberal values, such as the right to moral autonomy. Fearful of what they considered a new despotism of the wealthy, modern liberals advocated government regulation of markets and major industries, heavier taxation of the rich, the legalization of trade unions, and the introduction of various government-funded social services, such as mandatory accident insurance. Some have regarded the modern liberals embrace of increased government power as a repudiation of the classical liberal belief in limited government, but others have seen it as a reconsideration of the kinds of power required by government to protect the individual rights that liberals believe in.

The new liberalism was exemplified by the English philosophers L.T. Hobhouse and T.H. Green, who argued that democratic governments should aim to advance the general welfare by providing direct services and benefits to citizens. Meanwhile, however, classical liberals such as the English philosopher Herbert Spencer insisted that the welfare of the poor and the middle classes would be best served by free markets and minimal government. In the 20th century, so-called welfare state liberalism, or social democracy, emerged as the dominant form of liberalism, and the term liberalism itself underwent a significant change in definition in English-speaking countries. Particularly after World War II, most self-described liberals no longer supported completely free markets and minimal government, though they continued to champion other individual rights, such as the right to freedom of speech. As liberalism became increasingly associated with government intervention in the economy and social-welfare programs, some classical liberals abandoned the old term and began to call themselves libertarians.

In response to the rise of totalitarian regimes in Russia, Italy, and Germany in the first half of the 20th century, some economists and political philosophers rediscovered aspects of the classical liberal tradition that were most distinctly individualist. In his seminal essay Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth (originally in German, 1920), the Austrian-American economist Ludwig von Mises challenged the basic tenets of socialism, arguing that a complex economy requires private property and freedom of exchange in order to solve problems of social and economic coordination. Von Misess work led to extensive studies of the processes by which the uncoordinated activities of numerous individuals can spontaneously generate complex forms of social order in societies where individual rights are well-defined and legally secure.

Classical liberalism rests on a presumption of libertythat is, on the presumption that the exercise of liberty does not require justification but that all restraints on liberty do. Libertarians have attempted to define the proper extent of individual liberty in terms of the notion of property in ones person, or self-ownership, which entails that each individual is entitled to exclusive control of his choices, his actions, and his body. Because no individual has the right to control the peaceful activities of other self-owning individualse.g., their religious practices, their occupations, or their pastimesno such power can be properly delegated to government. Legitimate governments are therefore severely limited in their authority.

According to the principle that libertarians call the nonaggression axiom, all acts of aggression against the rights of otherswhether committed by individuals or by governmentsare unjust. Indeed, libertarians believe that the primary purpose of government is to protect citizens from the illegitimate use of force. Accordingly, governments may not use force against their own citizens unless doing so is necessary to prevent the illegitimate use of force by one individual or group against another. This prohibition entails that governments may not engage in censorship, military conscription, price controls, confiscation of property, or any other type of intervention that curtails the voluntary and peaceful exercise of an individuals rights.

A fundamental characteristic of libertarian thinking is a deep skepticism of government power. Libertarianism and liberalism both arose in the West, where the division of power between spiritual and temporal rulers had been greater than in most other parts of the world. In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), I Samuel 8: 1718, the Jews asked for a king, and God warned them that such a king would take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day. This admonition reminded Europeans for centuries of the predatory nature of states. The passage was cited by many liberals, including Thomas Paine and Lord Acton, who famously wrote that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Libertarian skepticism was reinforced by events of the 20th century, when unrestrained government power, among other factors, led to world war, genocide, and massive human rights violations.

Libertarians embrace individualism insofar as they attach supreme value to the rights and freedoms of individuals. Although various theories regarding the origin and justification of individual rights have been proposede.g., that they are given to human beings by God, that they are implied by the very idea of a moral law, and that respecting them produces better consequencesall libertarians agree that individual rights are imprescriptiblei.e., that they are not granted (and thus cannot be legitimately taken away) by governments or by any other human agency. Another aspect of the individualism of libertarians is their belief that the individual, rather than the group or the state, is the basic unit in terms of which a legal order should be understood.

Libertarians hold that some forms of order in society arise naturally and spontaneously from the actions of thousands or millions of individuals. The notion of spontaneous order may seem counterintuitive: it is natural to assume that order exists only because it has been designed by someone (indeed, in the philosophy of religion, the apparent order of the natural universe was traditionally considered proof of the existence of an intelligent designeri.e., God). Libertarians, however, maintain that the most important aspects of human societysuch as language, law, customs, money, and marketsdevelop by themselves, without conscious direction.

An appreciation for spontaneous order can be found in the writings of the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu (6th century bce), who urged rulers to do nothing because without law or compulsion, men would dwell in harmony. A social science of spontaneous order arose in the 18th century in the work of the French physiocrats and in the writings of the Scottish philosopher David Hume. Both the physiocrats (the term physiocracy means the rule of nature) and Hume studied the natural order of economic and social life and concluded, contrary to the dominant theory of mercantilism, that the directing hand of the prince was not necessary to produce order and prosperity. Hume extended his analysis to the determination of interest rates and even to the emergence of the institutions of law and property. In A Treatise of Human Nature (173940), he argued that the rule concerning the stability of possession is a product of spontaneous ordering processes, because it arises gradually, and acquires force by a slow progression, and by our repeated experience of the inconveniences of transgressing it. He also compared the evolution of the institution of property to the evolution of languages and money.

Smith developed the concept of spontaneous order extensively in both The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). He made the idea central to his discussion of social cooperation, arguing that the division of labour did not arise from human wisdom but was the necessary, though very slow and gradual, consequence of a certain propensity in human nature which has in view no such extensive utility: the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another. In Common Sense (1776), Paine combined the theory of spontaneous order with a theory of justice based on natural rights, maintaining that the great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government.

According to libertarians, free markets are among the most important (but not the only) examples of spontaneous order. They argue that individuals need to produce and trade in order to survive and flourish and that free markets are essential to the creation of wealth. Libertarians also maintain that self-help, mutual aid, charity, and economic growth do more to alleviate poverty than government social-welfare programs. Finally, they contend that, if the libertarian tradition often seems to stress private property and free markets at the expense of other principles, that is largely because these institutions were under attack for much of the 20th century by modern liberals, social democrats, fascists, and adherents of other leftist, nationalist, or socialist ideologies.

Libertarians consider the rule of law to be a crucial underpinning of a free society. In its simplest form, this principle means that individuals should be governed by generally applicable and publicly known laws and not by the arbitrary decisions of kings, presidents, or bureaucrats. Such laws should protect the freedom of all individuals to pursue happiness in their own ways and should not aim at any particular result or outcome.

Although most libertarians believe that some form of government is essential for protecting liberty, they also maintain that government is an inherently dangerous institution whose power must be strictly circumscribed. Thus, libertarians advocate limiting and dividing government power through a written constitution and a system of checks and balances. Indeed, libertarians often claim that the greater freedom and prosperity of European society (in comparison with other parts of the world) in the early modern era was the result of the fragmentation of power, both between church and state and among the continents many different kingdoms, principalities, and city-states. Some American libertarians, such as Lysander Spooner and Murray Rothbard, have opposed all forms of government. Rothbard called his doctrine anarcho-capitalism to distinguish it from the views of anarchists who oppose private property. Even those who describe themselves as anarchist libertarians, however, believe in a system of law and law enforcement to protect individual rights.

Much political analysis deals with conflict and conflict resolution. Libertarians hold that there is a natural harmony of interests among peaceful, productive individuals in a just society. Citing David Ricardos theory of comparative advantagewhich states that individuals in all countries benefit when each countrys citizens specialize in producing that which they can produce more efficiently than the citizens of other countrieslibertarians claim that, over time, all individuals prosper from the operation of a free market, and conflict is thus not a necessary or inevitable part of a social order. When governments begin to distribute rewards on the basis of political pressure, however, individuals and groups will engage in wasteful and even violent conflict to gain benefits at the expense of others. Thus, libertarians maintain that minimal government is a key to the minimization of social conflict.

In international affairs, libertarians emphasize the value of peace. That may seem unexceptional, since most (though not all) modern thinkers have claimed allegiance to peace as a value. Historically, however, many rulers have seen little benefit to peace and have embarked upon sometimes long and destructive wars. Libertarians contend that war is inherently calamitous, bringing widespread death and destruction, disrupting family and economic life, and placing more power in the hands of ruling classes. Defensive or retaliatory violence may be justified, but, according to libertarians, violence is not valuable in itself, nor does it produce any additional benefits beyond the defense of life and liberty.

Despite the historical growth in the scope and powers of government, particularly after World War II, in the early 21st century the political and economic systems of most Western countriesespecially the United Kingdom and the United Statescontinued to be based largely on classical liberal principles. Accordingly, libertarians in those countries tended to focus on smaller deviations from liberal principles, creating the perception among many that their views were radical or extreme. In the early 21st century, self-identified libertarians constituted a major current of the antigovernment Tea Party movement in the United States. However, explicitly libertarian political parties (such as the Libertarian Party in the United States and the Libertarianz Party in New Zealand), where they did exist, garnered little support, even among self-professed libertarians. Most politically active libertarians supported classical liberal parties (such as the Free Democratic Party in Germany or the Flemish Liberals and Democrats in Belgium) or conservative parties (such as the Republican Party in the United States or the Conservative Party in Great Britain); they also backed pressure groups advocating policies such as tax reduction, the privatization of education, and the decriminalization of drug use and other so-called victimless crimes. There were also small but vocal groups of libertarians in Scandinavia, Latin America, India, and China.

The publication in 1974 of Anarchy, State, and Utopia, a sophisticated defense of libertarian principles by the American philosopher Robert Nozick, marked the beginning of an intellectual revival of libertarianism. Libertarian ideas in economics became increasingly influential as libertarian economists, such as Alan Greenspan, were appointed to prominent advisory positions in conservative governments in the United Kingdom and the United States and as some libertarians, such as James M. Buchanan, Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, and Vernon L. Smith, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics. In 1982 the death of the libertarian novelist and social theorist Ayn Rand prompted a surge of popular interest in her work. Libertarian scholars, activists, and political leaders also played prominent roles in the worldwide campaign against apartheid and in the construction of democratic societies in eastern and central Europe following the collapse of communism there in 198991. In the early 21st century, libertarian ideas informed new research in diverse fields such as history, law, economic development, telecommunications, bioethics, globalization, and social theory.

A long-standing criticism of libertarianism is that it presupposes an unrealistic and undesirable conception of individual identity and of the conditions necessary for human flourishing. Opponents of libertarianism often refer to libertarian individualism as atomistic, arguing that it ignores the role of family, tribe, religious community, and state in forming individual identity and that such groups or institutions are the proper sources of legitimate authority. These critics contend that libertarian ideas of individuality are ahistorical, excessively abstract, and parasitic on unacknowledged forms of group identity and that libertarians ignore the obligations to community and government that accompany the benefits derived from these institutions. In the 19th century, Karl Marx decried liberal individualism, which he took to underlie civil (or bourgeois) society, as a decomposition of man that located mans essence no longer in community but in difference. More recently, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor maintained that the libertarian emphasis on the rights of the individual wrongly implies the self-sufficiency of man alone.

Libertarians deny that their views imply anything like atomistic individualism. The recognition and protection of individuality and difference, they contend, does not necessarily entail denying the existence of community or the benefits of living together. Rather, it merely requires that the bonds of community not be imposed on people by force and that individuals (adults, at least) be free to sever their attachments to others and to form new ones with those who choose to associate with them. Community, libertarians believe, is best served by freedom of association, an observation made by the 19th-century French historian of American democracy Alexis de Tocqueville, among others. Thus, for libertarians the central philosophical issue is not individuality versus community but rather consent versus coercion.

Other critics, including some prominent conservatives, have insisted that libertarianism is an amoral philosophy of libertinism in which the law loses its character as a source of moral instruction. The American philosopher Russell Kirk, for example, argued that libertarians bear no authority, temporal or spiritual, and do not venerate ancient beliefs and customs, or the natural world, or [their] country, or the immortal spark in [their] fellow men. Libertarians respond that they do venerate the ancient traditions of liberty and justice. They favour restricting the function of the law to enforcing those traditions, not only because they believe that individuals should be permitted to take moral responsibility for their own choices but also because they believe that law becomes corrupted when it is used as a tool for making men moral. Furthermore, they argue, a degree of humility about the variety of human goals should not be confused with radical moral skepticism or ethical relativism.

Some criticisms of libertarianism concern the social and economic effects of free markets and the libertarian view that all forms of government intervention are unjustified. Critics have alleged, for example, that completely unregulated markets create poverty as well as wealth; that they result in significant inequalities of income and wealth, along with corresponding inequalities of political power; that they encourage environmental pollution and the wasteful or destructive use of natural resources; that they are incapable of efficiently or fairly performing some necessary social services, such as health care, education, and policing; and that they tend toward monopoly, which increases inefficiency and compounds the problem of inequality of income and wealth.

Libertarians have responded by questioning whether government regulation, which would replace one set of imperfect institutions (private businesses) with another (government agencies), would solve or only worsen these problems. In addition, several libertarian scholars have argued that some of these problems are not caused by free markets but rather result from the failures and inefficiencies of political and legal institutions. Thus, they argue that environmental pollution could be minimized in a free market if property rights were properly defined and secured.

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libertarianism | Definition, Doctrines, History, & Facts …

Libertarianism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

What it means to be a “libertarian” in a political sense is a contentious issue, especially among libertarians themselves. There is no single theory that can be safely identified as the libertarian theory, and probably no single principle or set of principles on which all libertarians can agree. Nevertheless, there is a certain family resemblance among libertarian theories that can serve as a framework for analysis. Although there is much disagreement about the details, libertarians are generally united by a rough agreement on a cluster of normative principles, empirical generalizations, and policy recommendations. Libertarians are committed to the belief that individuals, and not states or groups of any other kind, are both ontologically and normatively primary; that individuals have rights against certain kinds of forcible interference on the part of others; that liberty, understood as non-interference, is the only thing that can be legitimately demanded of others as a matter of legal or political right; that robust property rights and the economic liberty that follows from their consistent recognition are of central importance in respecting individual liberty; that social order is not at odds with but develops out of individual liberty; that the only proper use of coercion is defensive or to rectify an error; that governments are bound by essentially the same moral principles as individuals; and that most existing and historical governments have acted improperly insofar as they have utilized coercion for plunder, aggression, redistribution, and other purposes beyond the protection of individual liberty.

In terms of political recommendations, libertarians believe that most, if not all, of the activities currently undertaken by states should be either abandoned or transferred into private hands. The most well-known version of this conclusion finds expression in the so-called “minimal state” theories of Robert Nozick, Ayn Rand, and others (Nozick 1974; Rand 1963a, 1963b) which hold that states may legitimately provide police, courts, and a military, but nothing more. Any further activity on the part of the stateregulating or prohibiting the sale or use of drugs, conscripting individuals for military service, providing taxpayer-funded support to the poor, or even building public roadsis itself rights-violating and hence illegitimate.

Libertarian advocates of a strictly minimal state are to be distinguished from two closely related groups, who favor a smaller or greater role for government, and who may or may not also label themselves “libertarian.” On one hand are so-called anarcho-capitalists who believe that even the minimal state is too large, and that a proper respect for individual rights requires the abolition of government altogether and the provision of protective services by private markets. On the other hand are those who generally identify themselves as classical liberals. Members of this group tend to share libertarians’ confidence in free markets and skepticism over government power, but are more willing to allow greater room for coercive activity on the part of the state so as to allow, say, state provision of public goods or even limited tax-funded welfare transfers.

As this article will use the term, libertarianism is a theory about the proper role of government that can be, and has been, supported on a number of different metaphysical, epistemological, and moral grounds. Some libertarians are theists who believe that the doctrine follows from a God-made natural law. Others are atheists who believe it can be supported on purely secular grounds. Some libertarians are rationalists who deduce libertarian conclusions from axiomatic first principles. Others derive their libertarianism from empirical generalizations or a reliance on evolved tradition. And when it comes to comprehensive moral theories, libertarians represent an almost exhaustive array of positions. Some are egoists who believe that individuals have no natural duties to aid their fellow human beings, while others adhere to moral doctrines that hold that the better-off have significant duties to improve the lot of the worse-off. Some libertarians are deontologists, while others are consequentialists, contractarians, or virtue-theorists. Understanding libertarianism as a narrow, limited thesis about the proper moral standing, and proper zone of activity, of the stateand not a comprehensive ethical or metaphysical doctrineis crucial to making sense of this otherwise baffling diversity of broader philosophic positions.

This article will focus primarily on libertarianism as a philosophic doctrine. This means that, rather than giving close scrutiny to the important empirical claims made both in support and criticism of libertarianism, it will focus instead on the metaphysical, epistemological, and especially moral claims made by the discussants. Those interested in discussions of the non-philosophical aspects of libertarianism can find some recommendations in the reference list below.

Furthermore, this article will focus almost exclusively on libertarian arguments regarding just two philosophical subjects: distributive justice and political authority. There is a danger that this narrow focus will be misleading, since it ignores a number of interesting and important arguments that libertarians have made on subjects ranging from free speech to self-defense, to the proper social treatment of the mentally ill. More generally, it ignores the ways in which libertarianism is a doctrine of social or civil liberty, and not just one of economic liberty. For a variety of reasons, however, the philosophic literature on libertarianism has mostly ignored these other aspects of the theory, and so this article, as a summary of that literature, will generally reflect that trend.

Probably the most well-known and influential version of libertarianism, at least among academic philosophers, is that based upon a theory of natural rights. Natural rights theories vary, but are united by a common belief that individuals have certain moral rights simply by virtue of their status as human beings, that these rights exist prior to and logically independent of the existence of government, and that these rights constrain the ways in which it is morally permissible for both other individuals and governments to treat individuals.

Although one can find some earlier traces of this doctrine among, for instance, the English Levellers or the Spanish School of Salamanca, John Locke’s political thought is generally recognized as the most important historical influence on contemporary natural rights versions of libertarianism. The most important elements of Locke’s theory in this respect, set out in his Second Treatise, are his beliefs about the law of nature, and his doctrine of property rights in external goods.

Locke’s idea of the law of nature draws on a distinction between law and government that has been profoundly influential on the development of libertarian thought. According to Locke, even if no government existed over men, the state of nature would nevertheless not be a state of “license.” In other words, men would still be governed by law, albeit one that does not originate from any political source (c.f. Hayek 1973, ch. 4). This law, which Locke calls the “law of nature” holds that “being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, liberty, or possessions” (Locke 1952, para. 6). This law of nature serves as a normative standard to govern human conduct, rather than as a description of behavioral regularities in the world (as are other laws of nature like, for instance, the law of gravity). Nevertheless, it is a normative standard that Locke believes is discoverable by human reason, and that binds us all equally as rational agents.

Locke’s belief in a prohibition on harming others stems from his more basic belief that each individual “has a property in his own person” (Locke 1952, para. 27). In other words, individuals are self-owners. Throughout this essay we will refer to this principle, which has been enormously influential on later libertarians, as the “self-ownership principle.” Though controversial, it has generally been taken to mean that each individual possesses over her own body all those rights of exclusive use that we normally associate with property in external goods. But if this were all that individuals owned, their liberties and ability to sustain themselves would obviously be extremely limited. For almost anything we want to doeating, walking, even breathing, or speaking in order to ask another’s permissioninvolves the use of external goods such as land, trees, or air. From this, Locke concludes, we must have some way of acquiring property in those external goods, else they will be of no use to anyone. But since we own ourselves, Locke argues, we therefore also own our labor. And by “mixing” our labor with external goods, we can come to own those external goods too. This allows individuals to make private use of the world that God has given to them in common. There is a limit, however, to this ability to appropriate external goods for private use, which Locke captures in his famous “proviso” that holds that a legitimate act of appropriation must leave “enough, and as good… in common for others” (Locke 1952, para. 27). Still, even with this limit, the combination of time, inheritance, and differential abilities, motivation, and luck will lead to possibly substantial inequalities in wealth between persons, and Locke acknowledges this as an acceptable consequence of his doctrine (Locke 1952, para. 50).

By far the single most important influence on the perception of libertarianism among contemporary academic philosophers was Robert Nozick in his book, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). This book is an explanation and exploration of libertarian rights that attempts to show how a minimal, and no more than a minimal, state can arise via an “invisible hand” process out of a state of nature without violating the rights of individuals; to challenge the highly influential claims of John Rawls that purport to show that a more-than-minimal state was justified and required to achieve distributive justice; and to show that a regime of libertarian rights could establish a “framework for utopia” wherein different individuals would be free to seek out and create mediating institutions to help them achieve their own distinctive visions of the good life.

The details of Nozick’s arguments can be found at Robert Nozick. Here, we will just briefly point out a few elements of particular importance in understanding Nozick’s place in contemporary libertarian thoughthis focus on the “negative” aspects of liberty and rights, his Kantian defense of rights, his historical theory of entitlement, and his acceptance of a modified Lockean proviso on property acquisition. A discussion of his argument for the minimal state can be found in the section on anarcho-capitalism below.

First, Nozick, like almost all natural rights libertarians, stresses negative liberties and rights above positive liberties and rights. The distinction between positive and negative liberty, made famous by Isaiah Berlin (Berlin 1990), is often thought of as a distinction between “freedom to” and “freedom from.” One has positive liberty when one has the opportunity and ability to do what one wishes (or, perhaps, what one “rationally” wishes or “ought” to wish). One has negative liberty, on the other hand, when there is an absence of external interferences to one’s doing what one wishesspecifically, when there is an absence of external interferences by other people. A person who is too sick to gather food has his negative liberty intactno one is stopping him from gathering foodbut not his positive liberty as he is unable to gather food even though he wants to do so. Nozick and most libertarians see the proper role of the state as protecting negative liberty, not as promoting positive liberty, and so toward this end Nozick focuses on negative rights as opposed to positive rights. Negative rights are claims against others to refrain from certain kinds of actions against you. Positive rights are claims against others to perform some sort of positive action. Rights against assault, for instance, are negative rights, since they simply require others not to assault you. Welfare rights, on the other hand, are positive rights insofar as they require others to provide you with money or services. By enforcing negative rights, the state protects our negative liberty. It is an empirical question whether enforcing merely negative rights or, as more left-liberal philosophers would promote, enforcing a mix of both negative and positive rights would better promote positive liberty.

Second, while Nozick agrees with the broadly Lockean picture of the content and government-independence of natural law and natural rights, his remarks in defense of those rights draw their inspiration more from Immanuel Kant than from Locke. Nozick does not provide a full-blown argument to justify libertarian rights against other non-libertarian rights theoriesa point for which he has been widely criticized, most famously by Thomas Nagel (Nagel 1975). But what he does say in their defense suggests that he sees libertarian rights as an entailment of the other-regarding element in Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperativethat we treat the humanity in ourselves and others as an end in itself, and never merely as a means. According to Nozick, both utilitarianism and theories that uphold positive rights sanction the involuntary sacrifice of one individual’s interests for the sake of others. Only libertarian rights, which for Nozick take the form of absolute side-constraints against force and fraud, show proper respect for the separateness of persons by barring such sacrifice altogether, and allowing each individual the liberty to pursue his or her own goals without interference.

Third, it is important to note that Nozick’s libertarianism evaluates the justice of states of affairs, such as distributions of property, in terms of the history or process by which that state of affairs arose, and not by the extent to which it satisfies what he calls a patterned or end-state principle of justice. Distributions of property are just, according to Nozick, if they arose from previously just distributions by just procedures. Discerning the justice of current distributions thus requires that we establish a theory of justice in transferto tell us which procedures constitute legitimate means of transferring ownership between personsand a theory of justice in acquisitionto tell us how individuals might come to own external goods that were previously owned by no one. And while Nozick does not fully develop either of these theories, his skeletal position is nevertheless significant, for it implies that it is only the proper historical pedigree that makes a distribution just, and it is only deviations from the proper pedigree that renders a distribution unjust. An implication of this position is that one cannot discern from time-slice statistical data alonesuch as the claim that the top fifth of the income distribution in the United States controls more than 80 percent of the nation’s wealththat a distribution is unjust. Rather, the justice of a distribution depends on how it came aboutby force or by trade? By differing degrees of hard work and luck? Or by fraud and theft? Libertarianism’s historical focus thus sets the doctrine against both outcome-egalitarian views that hold that only equal distributions are just, utilitarian views that hold that distributions are just to the extent they maximize utility, and prioritarian views that hold that distributions are just to the extent they benefit the worse-off. Justice in distribution is a matter of respecting people’s rights, not of achieving a certain outcome.

The final distinctive element of Nozick’s view is his acceptance of a modified version of the Lockean proviso as part of his theory of justice in acquisition. Nozick reads Locke’s claim that legitimate acts of appropriation must leave enough and as good for others as a claim that such appropriations must not worsen the situation of others (Nozick 1974, 175, 178). On the face of it, this seems like a small change from Locke’s original statement, but Nozick believes it allows for much greater freedom for free exchange and capitalism (Nozick 1974, 182). Nozick reaches this conclusion on the basis of certain empirical beliefs about the beneficial effects of private property:

it increases the social product by putting means of production in the hands of those who can use them most efficiently (profitably); experimentation is encouraged, because with separate persons controlling resources, there is no one person or small group whom someone with a new idea must convince to try it out; private property enables people to decide on the pattern and type of risks they wish to bear, leading to specialized types of risk bearing; private property protects future persons by leading some to hold back resources from current consumption for future markets; it provides alternative sources of employment for unpopular persons who don’t have to convince any one person or small group to hire them, and so on. (Nozick 1974, 177)

If these assumptions are correct, then persons might not be made worse off by acts of original appropriation even if those acts fail to leave enough and as good for others to appropriate. Private property and the capitalist markets to which it gives rise generate an abundance of wealth, and latecomers to the appropriation game (like people today) are in a much better position as a result. As David Schmidtz puts the point:

Original appropriation diminishes the stock of what can be originally appropriated, at least in the case of land, but that is not the same thing as diminishing the stock of what can be owned. On the contrary, in taking control of resources and thereby removing those particular resources from the stock of goods that can be acquired by original appropriation, people typically generate massive increases in the stock of goods that can be acquired by trade. The lesson is that appropriation is typically not a zero-sum game. It normally is a positive-sum game. (Schmidtz and Goodin 1998, 30)

Relative to their level of well-being in a world where nothing is privately held, then, individuals are generally not made worse off by acts of private appropriation. Thus, Nozick concludes, the Lockean proviso will “not provide a significant opportunity for future state action” in the form of redistribution or regulation of private property (Nozick 1974, 182).

Nozick’s libertarian theory has been subject to criticism on a number of grounds. Here we will focus on two primary categories of criticism of Lockean/Nozickian natural rights libertarianismnamely, with respect to the principle of self-ownership and the derivation of private property rights from self-ownership.

Criticisms of the self-ownership principle generally take one of two forms. Some arguments attempt to sever the connection between the principle of self-ownership and the more fundamental moral principles that are thought to justify it. Nozick’s suggestion that self-ownership is warranted by the Kantian principle that no one should be treated as a mere means, for instance, is criticized by G.A. Cohen on the grounds that policies that violate self-ownership by forcing the well-off to support the less advantaged do not necessarily treat the well-off merely as means (Cohen 1995, 239241). We can satisfy Kant’s imperative against treating others as mere means without thereby committing ourselves to full self-ownership, Cohen argues, and we have good reason to do so insofar as the principle of self-ownership has other, implausible, consequences. The same general pattern of argument holds against more intuitive defenses of the self-ownership principle. Nozick’s concern (Nozick 1977, 206), elaborated by Cohen (Cohen 1995, 70), that theories that deny self-ownership might license the forcible transfer of eyes from the sight-endowed to the blind, for instance, or Murray Rothbard’s claim that the only alternatives to self-ownership are slavery or communism (Rothbard 1973, 29), have been met with the response that a denial of the permissibility of slavery, communism, and eye-transplants can be madeand usually better madeon grounds other than self-ownership.

Other criticisms of self-ownership focus on the counterintuitive or otherwise objectionable implications of self-ownership. Cohen, for instance, argues that recognizing rights to full self-ownership allows individuals’ lives to be objectionably governed by brute luck in the distribution of natural assets, since the self that people own is largely a product of their luck in receiving a good or bad genetic endowment, and being raised in a good or bad environment (Cohen 1995, 229). Richard Arneson, on the other hand, has argued that self-ownership conflicts with Pareto-Optimality (Arneson 1991). His concern is that since self-ownership is construed by libertarians as an absolute right, it follows that it cannot be violated even in small ways and even when great benefit would accrue from doing so. Thus, to modify David Hume, absolute rights of self-ownership seem to prevent us from scratching the finger of another even to prevent the destruction of the whole world. And although the real objection here seems to be to the absoluteness of self-ownership rights, rather than to self-ownership rights as such, it remains unclear whether strict libertarianism can be preserved if rights of self-ownership are given a less than absolute status.

Even if individuals have absolute rights to full self-ownership, it can still be questioned whether there is a legitimate way of moving from ownership of the self to ownership of external goods.

Left-libertarians, such as Hillel Steiner, Peter Vallentyne, and Michael Otsuka, grant the self-ownership principle but deny that it can yield full private property rights in external goods, especially land (Steiner 1994; Vallentyne 2000; Otsuka 2003). Natural resources, such theorists hold, belong to everyone in some equal way, and private appropriation of them amounts to theft. Rather than returning all such goods to the state of nature, however, most left-libertarians suggest that those who claim ownership of such resources be subjected to a tax to compensate others for the loss of their rights of use. Since the tax is on the value of the external resource and not on individuals’ natural talents or efforts, it is thought that this line of argument can provide a justification for a kind of egalitarian redistribution that is compatible with full individual self-ownership.

While left-libertarians doubt that self-ownership can yield full private property rights in external goods, others are doubtful that the concept is determinate enough to yield any theory of justified property ownership at all. Locke’s metaphor on labor mixing, for instance, is intuitively appealing, but notoriously difficult to work out in detail (Waldron 1983). First, it is not clear why mixing one’s labor with something generates any rights at all. As Nozick himself asks, “why isn’t mixing what I own with what I don’t own a way of losing what I own rather than a way of gaining what I don’t?” (Nozick 1974, 174175). Second, it is not clear what the scope of the rights generated by labor-mixing are. Again, Nozick playfully suggests (but does not answer) this question when he asks whether a person who builds a fence around virgin land thereby comes to own the enclosed land, or simply the fence, or just the land immediately under it. But the point is more worrisome than Nozick acknowledges. For as critics such as Barbara Fried have pointed out, following Hohfeld, property ownership is not a single right but a bundle of rights, and it is far from clear which “sticks” from this bundle individuals should come to control by virtue of their self-ownership (Fried 2004). Does one’s ownership right over a plot of land entail the right to store radioactive waste on it? To dam the river that runs through it? To shine a very bright light from it in the middle of the night (Friedman 1989, 168)? Problems such as these must, of course, be resolved by any political theorynot just libertarians. The problem is that the concept of self-ownership seems to offer little, if any, help in doing so.

While Nozickian libertarianism finds its inspiration in Locke and Kant, there is another species of libertarianism that draws its influence from David Hume, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill. This variety of libertarianism holds its political principles to be grounded not in self-ownership or the natural rights of humanity, but in the beneficial consequences that libertarian rights and institutions produce, relative to possible and realistic alternatives. To the extent that such theorists hold that consequences, and only consequences, are relevant in the justification of libertarianism, they can properly be labeled a form of consequentialism. Some of these consequentialist forms of libertarianism are utilitarian. But consequentialism is not identical to utilitarianism, and this section will explore both traditional quantitative utilitarian defenses of libertarianism, and other forms more difficult to classify.

Philosophically, the approach that seeks to justify political institutions by demonstrating their tendency to maximize utility has its clearest origins in the thought of Jeremy Bentham, himself a legal reformer as well as moral theorist. But, while Bentham was no advocate of unfettered laissez-faire, his approach has been enormously influential among economists, especially the Austrian and Chicago Schools of Economics, many of whom have utilized utilitarian analysis in support of libertarian political conclusions. Some influential economists have been self-consciously libertarianthe most notable of which being Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, James Buchanan, and Milton Friedman (the latter three are Nobel laureates). Richard Epstein, more legal theorist than economist, nevertheless utilizes utilitarian argument with an economic analysis of law to defend his version of classical liberalism. His work in Principles for a Free Society (1998) and Skepticism and Freedom (2003) is probably the most philosophical of contemporary utilitarian defenses of libertarianism. Buchanan’s work is generally described as contractarian, though it certainly draws heavily on utilitarian analysis. It too is highly philosophical.

Utilitarian defenses of libertarianism generally consist of two prongs: utilitarian arguments in support of private property and free exchange and utilitarian arguments against government policies that exceed the bounds of the minimal state. Utilitarian defenses of private property and free exchange are too diverse to thoroughly canvass in a single article. For the purposes of this article, however, the focus will be on two main arguments that have been especially influential: the so-called “Tragedy of the Commons” argument for private property and the “Invisible Hand” argument for free exchange.

The Tragedy of the Commons argument notes that under certain conditions when property is commonly owned or, equivalently, owned by no one, it will be inefficiently used and quickly depleted. In his original description of the problem of the commons, Garrett Hardin asks us to imagine a pasture open to all, on which various herders graze their cattle (Hardin 1968). Each additional animal that the herder is able to graze means greater profit for the herder, who captures that entire benefit for his or her self. Of course, additional cattle on the pasture has a cost as well in terms of crowding and diminished carrying capacity of the land, but importantly this cost of additional grazing, unlike the benefit, is dispersed among all herders. Since each herder thus receives the full benefit of each additional animal but bears only a fraction of the dispersed cost, it benefits him or her to graze more and more animals on the land. But since this same logic applies equally well to all herders, we can expect them all to act this way, with the result that the carrying capacity of the field will quickly be exceeded.

The tragedy of the Tragedy of the Commons is especially apparent if we model it as a Prisoner’s Dilemma, wherein each party has the option to graze additional animals or not to graze. (See figure 1, below, where A and B represent two herders, “graze” and “don’t graze” their possible options, and the four possible outcomes of their joint action. Within the boxes, the numbers represent the utility each herder receives from the outcome, with A’s outcome listed on the left and B’s on the right). As the discussion above suggests, the best outcome for each individual herder is to graze an additional animal, but for the other herder not tohere the herder reaps all the benefit and only a fraction of the cost. The worst outcome for each individual herder, conversely, is to refrain from grazing an additional animal while the other herder indulgesin this situation, the herder bears costs but receives no benefit. The relationship between the other two possible outcomes is important. Both herders would be better off if neither grazed an additional animal, compared to the outcome in which both do graze an additional animal. The long-term benefits of operating within the carrying capacity of the land, we can assume, outweigh the short-term gains to be had from mutual overgrazing. By the logic of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, however, rational self-interested herders will not choose mutual restraint over mutual exploitation of the resource. This is because, so long as the costs of over-grazing are partially externalized on to other users of the resource, it is in each herder’s interest to overgraze regardless of what the other party does. In the language of game theory, overgrazing dominates restraint. As a result, not only is the resource consumed, but both parties are made worse off individually than they could have been. Mutual overgrazing creates a situation that not only yields a lower total utility than mutual restraint (2 vs. 6), but that is Pareto-inferior to mutual restraintat least one party (indeed, both!) would have been made better off by mutual restraint without anyone having been made worse off.


Don’t Graze



Don’t Graze

3, 3

0, 5


5, 0

1, 1

Figure 1. The Tragedy of the Commons as Prisoner’s Dilemma

The classic solution to the Tragedy of the Commons is private property. Recall that the tragedy arises because individual herders do not have to bear the full costs of their actions. Because the land is common to all, the costs of overgrazing are partially externalized on to other users of the resource. But private property changes this. If, instead of being commonly owned by all, the field was instead divided into smaller pieces of private property, then herders would have the power to exclude others from using their own property. One would only be able to graze cattle on one’s own field, or on others’ fields on terms specified by their owners, and this means that the costs of that overgrazing (in terms of diminished usability of the land or diminished resale value because of that diminished usability) would be borne by the overgrazer alone. Private property forces individuals to internalize the cost of their actions, and this in turn provides individuals with an incentive to use the resource wisely.

The lesson is that by creating and respecting private property rights in external resources, governments can provide individuals with an incentive to use those resources in an efficient way, without the need for complicated government regulation and oversight of those resources. Libertarians have used this basic insight to argue for everything from privatization of roads (Klein and Fielding 1992) to private property as a solution to various environmental problems (Anderson and Leal 1991).

Libertarians believe that individuals and groups should be free to trade just about anything they wish with whomever they wish, with little to no governmental restriction. They therefore oppose laws that prohibit certain types of exchanges (such as prohibitions on prostitution and sale of illegal drugs, minimum wage laws that effectively prohibit low-wage labor agreements, and so on) as well as laws that burden exchanges by imposing high transaction costs (such as import tariffs).

The reason utilitarian libertarians support free exchange is that, they argue, it tends to allocate resources into the hands of those who value them most, and in so doing to increase the total amount of utility in society. The first step in seeing this is to understand that even if trade is a zero-sum game in terms of the objects that are traded (nothing is created or destroyed, just moved about), it is a positive-sum game in terms of utility. This is because individuals differ in terms of the subjective utility they assign to goods. A person planning to move from Chicago to San Diego might assign a relatively low utility value to her large, heavy furniture. It’s difficult and costly to move, and might not match the style of the new home anyway. But to someone else who has just moved into an empty apartment in Chicago, that furniture might have a very high utility value indeed. If the first person values the furniture at $200 (or its equivalent in terms of utility) and the second person values it at $500, both will gain if they exchange for a price anywhere between those two values. Each will have given up something they value less in exchange for something they value more, and net utility will have increased as a result.

As Friedrich Hayek has noted, much of the information about the relative utility values assigned to different goods is transmitted to different actors in the market via the price system (Hayek 1980). An increase in a resource’s price signals that demand for that resource has increased relative to supply. Consumers can respond to this price increase by continuing to use the resource at the now-higher price, switching to a substitute good, or discontinuing use of that sort of resource altogether. Each individual’s decision is both affected by the price of the relevant resources, and affects the price insofar as it adds to or subtracts from aggregate supply and demand. Thus, though they generally do not know it, each person’s decision is a response to the decisions of millions of other consumers and producers of the resource, each of whom bases her decision on her own specialized, local knowledge about that resource. And although all they are trying to do is maximize their own utility, each individual will be led to act in a way that leads the resource toward its highest-valued use. Those who derive the most utility from the good will outbid others for its use, and others will be led to look for cheaper substitutes.

On this account, one deeply influenced by the Austrian School of Economics, the market is a constantly churning process of competition, discovery, and innovation. Market prices represent aggregates of information and so generally represent an advance over what any one individual could hope to know on his own, but the individual decisions out of which market prices arise are themselves based on imperfect information. There are always opportunities that nobody has discovered, and the passage of time, the changing of people’s preferences, and the development of new technological possibilities ensures that this ignorance will never be fully overcome. The market is thus never in a state of competitive equilibrium, and it will always “fail” by the test of perfect efficiency. But it is precisely today’s market failures that provide the opportunities for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to profit by new innovation (Kirzner 1996). Competition is a process, not a goal to be reached, and it is a process driven by the particular decisions of individuals who are mostly unaware of the overall and long-term tendencies of their decisions taken as a whole. Even if no market actor cares about increasing the aggregate level of utility in society, he will be, as Adam Smith wrote, “led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention” (Smith 1981). The dispersed knowledge of millions of market actors will be taken into account in producing a distribution that comes as close as practically possible to that which would be selected by a benign, omniscient, and omnipotent despot. In reality, however, all that government is required to do in order to achieve this effect is to define and enforce clear property rights and to allow the price system to freely adjust in response to changing conditions.

The above two arguments, if successful, demonstrate that free markets and private property generate good utilitarian outcomes. But even if this is true, it remains possible that selective government intervention in the economy could produce outcomes that are even better. Governments might use taxation and coercion for the provision of public goods, or to prevent other sorts of market failures like monopolies. Or governments might engage in redistributive taxation on the grounds that given the diminishing marginal utility of wealth, doing so will provide higher levels of overall utility. In order to maintain their opposition to government intervention, then, libertarians must produce arguments to show that such policies will not produce greater utility than a policy of laissez-faire. Producing such arguments is something of a cottage industry among libertarian economists, and so we cannot hope to provide a complete summary here. Two main categories of argument, however, have been especially influential. We can call them incentive-based arguments and public choice arguments.

Incentive arguments proceed by claiming that government policies designed to promote utility actually produce incentives for individuals to act in ways that run contrary to promotion of utility. Examples of incentive arguments include arguments that (a) government-provided (welfare) benefits dissuade individuals from taking responsibility for their own economic well-being (Murray 1984), (b) mandatory minimum wage laws generate unemployment among low-skilled workers (Friedman 1962, 180181), (c) legal prohibition of drugs create a black market with inflated prices, low quality control, and violence (Thornton 1991), and (d) higher taxes lead people to work and/or invest less, and hence lead to lower economic growth.

Public choice arguments, on the other hand, are often employed by libertarians to undermine the assumption that government will use its powers to promote the public interest in the way its proponents claim it will. Public choice as a field is based on the assumption that the model of rational self-interest typically employed by economists to predict the behavior of market agents can also be used to predict the behavior of government agents. Rather than trying to maximize profit, however, government agents are thought to be aiming at re-election (in the case of elected officials) or maintenance or expansion of budget and influence (in the case of bureaucrats). From this basic analytical model, public choice theorists have argued that (a) the fact that the costs of many policies are widely dispersed among taxpayers, while their benefits are often concentrated in the hands of a few beneficiaries, means that even grossly inefficient policies will be enacted and, once enacted, very difficult to remove, (b) politicians and bureaucrats will engage in “rent-seeking” behavior by exploiting the powers of their office for personal gain rather than public good, and (c) certain public goods will be over-supplied by political processes, while others will be under-supplied, since government agents lack both knowledge and incentives necessary to provide such goods at efficient levels (Mitchell and Simmons 1994). These problems are held to be endemic to political processes, and not easily subject to legislative or constitutional correction. Hence, many conclude that the only way to minimize the problems of political power is to minimize the scope of political power itself by subjecting as few areas of life as possible to political regulation.

The quantitative utilitarians are often both rationalist and radical in their approach to social reform. For them, the maximization of utility serves as an axiomatic first principle, from which policy conclusions can be straightforwardly deduced once empirical (or quasi-empirical) assessments of causal relationships in the world have been made. From Jeremy Bentham to Peter Singer, quantitative utilitarians have advocated dramatic changes in social institutions, all justified in the name of reason and the morality it gives rise to.

There is, however, another strain of consequentialism that is less confident in the ability of human reason to radically reform social institutions for the better. For these consequentialists, social institutions are the product of an evolutionary process that itself is the product of the decisions of millions of discrete individuals. Each of these individuals in turn possess knowledge that, though by itself is insignificant, in the aggregate represents more than any single social reformer could ever hope to match. Humility, not radicalism, is counseled by this variety of consequentialism.

Though it has its affinities with conservative doctrines such as those of Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott, and Russell Kirk, this strain of consequentialism had its greatest influence on libertarianism through the work of Friedrich Hayek. Hayek, however, takes pains to distance himself from conservative ideology, noting that his respect for tradition is not grounded in a fetish for the status quo or an opposition to change as such, but in deeper, distinctively liberal principles (Hayek 1960). For Hayek, tradition is valuable because, and only to the extent that, it evolves in a peaceful, decentralized way. Social norms that are chosen by free individuals and survive competition from competing norms without being maintained by coercion are, for that reason, worthy of respect even if we are not consciously aware of all the reasons that the institution has survived. Somewhat paradoxically then, Hayek believes that we can rationally support institutions even when we lack substantive justifying reasons for supporting them. The reason this can be rational is that even when we lack substantive justifying reasons, we nevertheless have justifying reasons in a procedural sensethe fact that the institution is the result of an evolutionary procedure of a certain sort gives us reason to believe that there are substantive justifying reasons for it, even if we do not know what they are (Gaus 2006).

For Hayek, the procedures that lend justifying force to institutions are, essentially, ones that leave individuals free to act as they wish so long as they do not act aggressively toward others. For Hayek, however, this principle is not a moral axiom but rather follows from his beliefs regarding the limits and uses of knowledge in society. A crucial piece of Hayek’s arguments regarding the price system, (see above) is his claim that each individual possesses a unique set of knowledge about his or her local circumstances, special interests, desires, abilities, and so forth. The price system, if allowed to function freely without artificial floors or ceilings, will reflect this knowledge and transmit it to other interested individuals, thus allowing society to make effective use of dispersed knowledge. But Hayek’s defense of the price system is only one application of a more general point. The fact that knowledge of all sorts exists in dispersed form among many individuals is a fundamental fact about human existence. And since this knowledge is constantly changing in response to changing circumstances and cannot therefore be collected and acted upon by any central authority, the only way to make use of this knowledge effectively is to allow individuals the freedom to act on it themselves. This means that government must disallow individuals from coercing one another, and also must refrain from coercing them themselves. The social order that such voluntary actions produce is one that, given the complexity of social and economic systems and radical limitations on our ability to acquire knowledge about its particular details (Gaus 2007), cannot be imposed by fiat, but must evolve spontaneously in a bottom-up manner. Hayek, like Mill before him (Mill 1989), thus celebrates the fact that a free society allows individuals to engage in “experiments in living” and therefore, as Nozick argued in the neglected third part of his Anarchy, State, and Utopia, can serve as a “utopia of utopias” where individuals are at liberty to organize their own conception of the good life with others who voluntarily choose to share their vision (Hayek 1960).

Hayek’s ideas about the relationship between knowledge, freedom, and a constitutional order were first developed at length in The Constitution of Liberty, later developed in his series Law, Legislation and Liberty, and given their last, and most accessible (though not necessarily most reliable (Caldwell 2005)) statement in The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (1988). Since then, the most extensive integration of these ideas into a libertarian framework is in Randy Barnett’s The Structure of Liberty, wherein Barnett argues that a “polycentric constitutional order” (see below regarding anarcho-capitalism) is best suited to solve not only the Hayekian problem of the use of knowledge in society, but also what he calls the problems of “interest” and “power” (Barnett 1998). More recently, Hayekian insights have been put to use by contemporary philosophers Chandran Kukathas (1989; 2006) and Gerald Gaus (2006; 2007).

Consequentialist defenses of libertarianism are, of course, varieties of consequentialist moral argument, and are susceptible therefore to the same kinds of criticisms leveled against consequentialist moral arguments in general. Beyond these standard criticisms, moreover, consequentialist defenses of libertarianism are subject to four special difficulties.

First, consequentialist arguments seem unlikely to lead one to full-fledged libertarianism, as opposed to more moderate forms of classical liberalism. Intuitively, it seems implausible that simple protection of individual negative liberties would do a better job than any alternative institutional arrangement at maximizing utility or peace and prosperity or whatever. And this intuitive doubt is buttressed by economic analyses showing that unregulated capitalist markets suffer from production of negative externalities, from monopoly power, and from undersupply of certain public goods, all of which cry out for some form of government protection (Buchanan 1985). Even granting libertarian claims that (a) these problems are vastly overstated, (b) often caused by previous failures of government to adequately respect or enforce private property rights, and (c) government ability to correct these is not as great as one might think, it’s nevertheless implausible to suppose, a priori, that it will never be the case that government can do a better job than the market by interfering with strict libertarian rights.

Second, consequentialist defenses of libertarianism are subject to objections when a great deal of benefit can be had at a very low cost. So-called cases of “easy rescue,” for instance, challenge the wisdom of adhering to absolute prohibitions on coercive conduct. After all, if the majority of the world’s population lives in dire poverty and suffer from easily preventable diseases and deaths, couldn’t utility be increased by increasing taxes slightly on wealthy Americans and using that surplus to provide basic medical aid to those in desperate need? The prevalence of such cases is an empirical question, but their possibility points (at least) to a “fragility” in the consequentialist case for libertarian prohibitions on redistributive taxation.

Third, the consequentialist theories at the root of these libertarian arguments are often seriously under-theorized. For instance, Randy Barnett bases his defense of libertarian natural rights on the claim that they promote the end of “happiness, peace and prosperity” (Barnett 1998). But this leaves a host of difficult questions unaddressed. The meaning of each of these terms, for instance, has been subject to intense philosophical debate. Which sense of happiness, then, does libertarianism promote? What happens when these ends conflictwhen we have to choose, say, between peace and prosperity? And in what sense do libertarian rights “promote” these ends? Are they supposed to maximize happiness in the aggregate? Or to maximize each person’s happiness? Or to maximize the weighted sum of happiness, peace, and prosperity? Richard Epstein is on more familiar and hence, perhaps, firmer ground when he says that his version of classical liberalism is meant to maximize utility, but even here the claim that utility maximization is the proper end of political action is asserted without argument. The lesson is that while consequentialist political arguments might seem less abstract and philosophical (in the pejorative sense) than deontological arguments, consequentialism is still, nevertheless, a moral theory, and needs to be clearly articulated and defended as any other moral theory. Possibly because consequentialist defenses of libertarianism have been put forward mainly by non-philosophers, this challenge has yet to be met.

A fourth and related point has to do with issues surrounding the distribution of wealth, happiness, opportunities, and other goods allegedly promoted by libertarian rights. In part, this is a worry common to all maximizing versions of consequentialism, but it is of special relevance in this context given the close relation between economic systems and distributional issues. The worry is that morality, or justice, requires more than simply producing an abundance of wealth, happiness, or whatever. It requires that each person gets a fair sharewhether that is defined as an equal share, a share sufficient for living a good life, or something else. Intuitively fair distributions are simply not something that libertarian institutions can guarantee, devoid as they are of any means for redistributing these goods from the well-off to the less well-off. Furthermore, once it is granted that libertarianism is likely to produce unequal distributions of wealth, the Hayekian argument for relying on the free price system to allocate goods no longer holds as strongly as it appeared to. For we cannot simply assume that a free price system will lead to goods being allocated to their most valued use if some people have an abundance of wealth and others very little at all. A free market of self-interested persons will not distribute bread to the starving man, no matter how much utility he would derive from it, if he cannot pay for it. And a wealthy person, such as Bill Gates, will still always be able to outbid a poor person for season tickets to the Mariners, even if the poor person values the tickets much more highly than he, since the marginal value of the dollars he spends on the tickets is much lower to him than the marginal value of the poor person’s dollars. Both by an external standard of fairness and by an internal standard of utility-maximization, then, unregulated free markets seem to fall short.

Anarcho-capitalists claim that no state is morally justified (hence their anarchism), and that the traditional functions of the state ought to be provided by voluntary production and trade instead (hence their capitalism). This position poses a serious challenge to both moderate classical liberals and more radical minimal state libertarians, though, as we shall see, the stability of the latter position is especially threatened by the anarchist challenge.

Anarcho-capitalism can be defended on either consequentialist or deontological grounds, though usually a mix of both arguments is proffered. On the consequentialist side, it is argued that police protection, court systems, and even law itself can be provided voluntarily for a price like any other market good (Friedman 1989; Rothbard 1978; Barnett 1998; Hasnas 2003; Hasnas 2007). And not only is it possible for markets to provide these traditionally state-supplied goods, it is actually more desirable for them to do so given that competitive pressures in this market, as in others, will produce an array of goods that is of higher general quality and that is diverse enough to satisfy individuals’ differing preferences (Friedman 1989; Barnett 1998). Deontologically, anarcho-capitalists argue that the minimal state necessarily violates individual rights insofar as it (1) claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of force and thereby prohibits other individuals from exercising force in accordance with their natural rights, and (2) funds its protective services with coercively obtained tax revenue that it sometimes (3) uses redistributively to pay for protection for those who are unable to pay for themselves (Rothbard 1978; Childs 1994).

Robert Nozick was one of the first academic philosophers to take the anarchist challenge seriously. In the first part of his Anarchy, State, and Utopia he argued that the minimal state can evolve out of an anarcho-capitalist society through an invisible hand process that does not violate anyone’s rights. Competitive pressures and violent conflict, he argued, will provide incentives for competing defensive agencies to merge or collude so that, effectively, monopolies will emerge over certain geographical areas (Nozick 1974). Since these monopolies are merely de facto, however, the dominant protection agency does not yet constitute a state. For that to occur, the “dominant protection agency” must claim that it would be morally illegitimate for other protection agencies to operate, and make some reasonably effective attempt to prohibit them from doing so. Nozick’s argument that it would be legitimate for the dominant protection agency to do so is one of the most controversial aspects of his argument. Essentially, he argues that individuals have rights not to be subject to the risk of rights-violation, and that the dominant protection agency may legitimately prohibit the protective activities of its competitors on grounds that their procedures involve the imposition of risk. In claiming and enforcing this monopoly, the dominant protection agency becomes what Nozick calls the “ultraminimal state”ultraminimal because it does not provide protective services for all persons within its geographical territory, but only those who pay for them. The transition from the ultraminimal state to the minimal one occurs when the dominant protection agency (now state) provides protective services to all individuals within its territory, and Nozick argues that the state is morally obligated to do this in order to provide compensation to the individuals who have been disadvantaged by its seizure of monopoly power.

Nozick’s arguments against the anarchist have been challenged on a number of grounds. First, the justification for the state it provides is entirely hypotheticalthe most he attempts to claim is that a state could arise legitimately from the state of nature, not that any actual state has (Rothbard 1977). But if hypotheticals were all that mattered, then an equally compelling story could be told of how the minimal state could devolve back into merely one competitive agency among others by a process that violates no one’s rights (Childs 1977), thus leaving us at a justificatory stalemate. Second, it is questionable whether prohibiting activities that run the risk of violating rights, but do not actually violate any, is compatible with fundamental liberal principles (Rothbard 1977). Finally, even if the general principle of prohibition with compensation is legitimate, it is nevertheless doubtful that the proper way to compensate the anarchist who has been harmed by the state’s claim of monopoly is to provide him with precisely what he does not wantstate police and military services (Childs 1977).

Until decisively rebutted, then, the anarchist position remains a serious challenge for libertarians, especially of the minimal state variety. This is true regardless of whether their libertarianism is defended on consequentialist or natural rights grounds. For the consequentialist libertarian, the challenge is to explain why law and protective services are the only goods that require state provision in order to maximize utility (or whatever the maximandum may be). If, for instance, the consequentialist justification for the state provision of law is that law is a public good, then the question is: Why should other public goods not also be provided? The claim that only police, courts, and military fit the bill appears to be more an a priori article of faith than a consequence of empirical analysis. This consideration might explain why so many consequentialist libertarians are in fact classical liberals who are willing to grant legitimacy to a larger than minimal state (Friedman 1962; Hayek 1960; Epstein 2003). For deontological libertarians, on the other hand, the challenge is to show why the state is justified in (a) prohibiting individuals from exercising or purchasing protective activities on their own and (b) financing protective services through coercive and redistributive taxation. If this sort of prohibition, and this sort of coercion and redistribution is justified, why not others? Once the bright line of non-aggression has been crossed, it is difficult to find a compelling substitute.

This is not to say that anarcho-capitalists do not face challenges of their own. First, many have pointed out that there is a paucity of empirical evidence to support the claim that anarcho-capitalism could function in a modern post-industrial society. Pointing to quasi-examples from Medieval Iceland (Friedman 1979) does little to alleviate this concern (Epstein 2003). Second, even if a plausible case could be made for the market provision of law and private defense, the market provision of national defense, which fits the characteristics of a public good almost perfectly, remains a far more difficult challenge (Friedman 1989). Finally, when it comes to rights and anarchy, one philosopher’s modus ponens is another’s modus tollens. If respect for robust rights of self-ownership and property in external goods, as libertarians understand them, entail anarcho-capitalism, why not then reject these rights rather than embrace anarcho-capitalism? Rothbard, Nozick and other natural rights libertarians are notoriously lacking in foundational arguments to support their strong belief in these rights. In the absence of strong countervailing reasons to accept these rights and the libertarian interpretation of them, the fact that they lead to what might seem to be absurd conclusions could be a decisive reason to reject them.

This entry has focused on the main approaches to libertarianism popular among academic philosophers. But it has not been exhaustive. There are other philosophical defenses of libertarianism that space prevents exploring in detail, but deserve mention nevertheless. These include defenses of libertarianism that proceed from teleological and contractual considerations.

One increasingly influential approach takes as its normative foundation a virtue-centered ethical theory. Such theories hold that libertarian political institutions are justified in the way they allow individuals to develop as virtuous agents. Ayn Rand was perhaps the earliest modern proponent of such theory, and while her writings were largely ignored by academics, the core idea has since been picked up and developed with greater sophistication by philosophers like Tara Smith, Douglas Rasmussen, and Douglas Den Uyl (Rasmussen and Den Uyl 1991; 2005).

Teleological versions of libertarianism are in some significant respects similar to consequentialist versions, insofar as they hold that political institutions are to be judged in light of their tendency to yield a certain sort of outcome. But the consequentialism at work here is markedly different from the aggregative and impartial consequentialism of act-utilitarianism. Political institutions are to be judged based on the extent to which they allow individuals to flourish, but flourishing is a value that is agent-relative (and not agent-neutral as is happiness for the utilitarian), and also one that can only be achieved by the self-directed activity of each individual agent (and not something that can be distributed among individuals by the state). It is thus not the job of political institutions to promote flourishing by means of activist policies, but merely to make room for it by enforcing the core set of libertarian rights.

These claims lead to challenges for the teleological libertarian, however. If human flourishing is good, it must be so in an agent-neutral or in an agent-relative sense. If it is good in an agent-neutral sense, then it is unclear why we do not share positive duties to promote the flourishing of others, alongside merely negative duties to refrain from hindering their pursuit of their own flourishing.

Teleological libertarians generally argue that flourishing is something that cannot be provided for one by others since it is essentially a matter of exercising one’s own practical reason in the pursuit of a good life. But surely others can provide for us some of the means for our exercise of practical reasonfrom basics such as food and shelter to more complex goods such as education and perhaps even the social bases of self-respect. If, on the other hand, human flourishing is a good in merely an agent-relative sense, then it is unclear why others’ flourishing imposes any duties on us at allpositive or negative. If duties to respect the negative rights of others are not grounded in the agent-neutral value of others’ flourishing, then presumably they must be grounded in our own flourishing, but (a) making the wrongness of harming others depend on its negative effect on us seems to make that wrongness too contingent on situational factssurely there are some cases in which violating the rights of others can benefit us, even in the long-term holistic sense required by eudaimonistic accounts. And (b) the fact that wronging others will hurt us seems to be the wrong kind of explanation for why rights-violating acts are wrong. It seems to get matters backwards: rights-violating actions are wrong because of their effects on the person whose rights are violated, not because they detract from the rights-violator’s virtue.

Another moral framework that has become increasingly popular among philosophers since Rawls’s Theory of Justice (1971) is contractarianism. As a moral theory, contractarianism is the idea that moral principles are justified if and only if they are the product of a certain kind of agreement among persons. Among libertarians, this idea has been developed by Jan Narveson in his book, The Libertarian Idea (1988), which attempts to show that rational individuals would agree to a government that took individual negative liberty as the only relevant consideration in setting policy. And, while not self-described as a contractarian, Loren Lomasky’s work in Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community (1987) has many affinities with this approach, as it attempts to defend libertarianism as a kind of policy of mutual-advantage between persons.

Most of the libertarian theories we have surveyed in this article have a common structure: foundational philosophical commitments are set out, theories are built upon them, and practical conclusions are derived from those theories. This approach has the advantage of thoroughnessone’s ultimate political conclusions are undergirded by a weighty philosophical system to which any challengers can be directed. The downside of this approach is that anyone who disagrees with one’s philosophic foundations will not be much persuaded by one’s conclusions drawn from themand philosophers are not generally known for their widespread agreement on foundational issues.

As a result, much of the most interesting work in contemporary libertarian theory skips systematic theory-building altogether, and heads straight to the analysis of concrete problems. Often this analysis proceeds by accepting some set of values as givenoften the values embraced by those who are not sympathetic to libertarianism as a political theoryand showing that libertarian political institutions will better realize those values than competing institutional frameworks. Daniel Shapiro’s recent work on welfare states (Shapiro 2007), for instance, is a good example of this trend, in arguing that contemporary welfare states are unjustifiable from a variety of popular theoretical approaches. Loren Lomasky (2005) has written a humorous but important piece arguing that Rawls’s foundational principles are better suited to defending Nozickian libertarianism than even Nozick’s foundational principles are. And David Schmidtz (Schmidtz and Goodin 1998) has argued that market institutions are supported on grounds of individual responsibility that any moral framework ought to take seriously. While such approaches lack the theoretical completeness that philosophers naturally crave, they nevertheless have the virtue of addressing crucially important social issues in a way that dispenses with the need for complete agreement on comprehensive moral theories.

A theoretical justification of this approach can be found in John Rawls’s notion of an overlapping consensus, as developed in his work Political Liberalism (1993). Rawls’s idea is that decisions about which political institutions and principles to adopt ought to be based on those aspects of morality on which all reasonable theories converge, rather than any one particular foundational moral theory, because there is reasonable and apparently intractable disagreement about foundational moral issues. Extending this overlapping consensus approach to libertarianism, then, entails viewing libertarianism as a political theory that is compatible with a variety of foundational metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical views. Individuals need not settle their reasonable disagreements regarding moral issues in order to agree upon a framework for political association; and libertarianism, with its robust toleration of individual differences, seems well-suited to serve as the principle for such a framework (Barnett 2004).

Matt ZwolinskiEmail: mzwolinski@sandiego.eduUniversity of San DiegoU. S. A.

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Libertarianism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Bitcoin Cash – Wikipedia

Bitcoin Cash


Bitcoin Cash is a cryptocurrency.[5] It is a result of a prolonged disagreement on how to handle the bitcoin scalability problem. A group of people not content with the Segregated Witness feature scheduled to activate decided to increase bitcoin transaction capacity eight times. The change, called a hard fork, took effect on August 1, 2017.[6] As a result, the bitcoin ledger called the blockchain and the cryptocurrency split in two.[7][8]

Up until July 2017, bitcoin users maintained a common set of rules for the cryptocurrency.[9] On July 20, 2017 at block height 476768 Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) 91 was locked in (i.e. scheduled to activate at block height 477120).[10][11] It was designed to reject blocks created by miners not supporting Segregated Witness.[10][11]

Some members of the bitcoin community felt that adopting BIP 91 without increasing the block-size limit favored people who wanted to treat bitcoin as a digital investment rather than as a transactional currency.[9][12]

The plan to do a hard fork was proposed by the Bitcoin Unlimited group in BUIP055 on May 10, 2017.[13] This proposal was passed on June 3, 2017 with 21 votes for and 0 against.[14] Early work occurred in the Bitcoin Unlimited repository or in clones; documentation work used the term UAHF on June 6, 2017,[15] although code often used the term BUIP055.[16]

Subsequently, the mining company Bitmain posted on their corporate blog a post titled UAHF: A contingency plan against UASF (BIP148), in which the ASIC bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer published the hard fork specifications[16] and promised mining support if BIP 148 (a User Activated Soft Fork) succeeded.[17] Subsequently, some developers took interest in the project.[18] The Bitcoin Cash name was originally proposed by Chinese mining pool ViaBTC.[18][19]

A stated goal of the fork was to increase the number of transactions its ledger can process by increasing the block size limit to eight megabytes.[20][21] CoinDesk said that these motivations might have been behind the development and launch of Bitcoin Cash:[22]

The first implementation of the Bitcoin Cash protocol called Bitcoin ABC was revealed by Amaury “Deadal Nix” Schet at the Future of Bitcoin conference in Arnhem, Netherlands.[18] Subsequently, Bitcoin Unlimited made its first release of Bitcoin Cash compatible software, named BUCash[23] and Bitcoin XT also released before the activation of the Bitcoin Cash fork.[24] This meant that 3 full node clients were available before the Bitcoin Cash hard fork activated on August 1, 2017.

These initial clients implemented the following differences from bitcoin code which caused a blockchain split and therefore a separate Bitcoin Cash currency:

Upon launch, Bitcoin Cash inherited the transaction history of the bitcoin cryptocurrency on that date, but all later transactions were separate. Block 478558 was the last common block and thus the first Bitcoin Cash block was 478559.[25] Bitcoin Cash cryptocurrency wallets started to reject bitcoin blocks and bitcoin transactions after 13:20 UTC, August 1, 2017 because it used a timer to initiate a fork. It implements a block size increase to 8 MB. One exchange started Bitcoin Cash futures trading at 0.5 BTC on July 23; the futures dropped to 0.1 BTC by July 30. Market cap appeared since 23:15 UTC, August 1, 2017.[12][26]

On August 9, 2017 it was 30% more profitable to mine on the bitcoin chain.[27] As both chains use the same proof-of-work algorithm, miners can easily move their hashpower between the two. As of August30, 2017[update] around 1,500 more blocks were mined on the Bitcoin Cash chain than on the original one[28] as the high profitability periods[29] attracted a significant proportion of total processing power.[30] Due to the new Emergency Difficulty Adjustment (EDA) algorithm used by Bitcoin Cash,[31] mining difficulty fluctuated rapidly, and the most profitable chain to mine switched repeatedly between Bitcoin Cash and mainline bitcoin.

A fix for these difficulty, hashrate, and profitability fluctuations was introduced on November 13, 2017 at 7:06p.m. UTC.[32] The EDA algorithm has been replaced with a new difficulty adjustment algorithm (DAA) that hopes to prevent extreme fluctuations in difficulty while still allowing Bitcoin Cash to adapt to hashrate changes faster than the original bitcoin algorithm adjusting the difficulty every 2016 blocks.[33]

Bitcoin Cash has been adopted by digital currency exchanges. Exchanges such as Coinbase,[34] CEX.IO,[35] Kraken,[36] ShapeShift[19] and many others use the Bitcoin Cash name and the BCH ticker symbol for the cryptocurrency. Bitstamp and Bitfinex temporarily used the name Bcash,[37][38] but after being criticized, they switched the name back to Bitcoin Cash.[39][40]

Bittrex,[41] Binance,[42] and Huobi exchange[43] use BCC as Bitcoin Cash’s ticker symbol instead. BCC is more commonly used as the ticker symbol for Bitconnect.

While the alphanumeric address style is the same as bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash should not be sent to a bitcoin address. Like bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash addresses can be used more than once, but should not be reused if privacy is a concern.

Cryptocurrency wallets such as the Ledger hardware wallet,[44] KeepKey hardware wallet,[45] Electron Cash software wallet[46] and Bitcoin.com software wallet[47] use the name Bitcoin Cash for the cryptocurrency, using either BCH or BCC ticker symbol for it. Trezor hardware wallet supports Bitcoin Cash too.[48] Blockchain.info is one of the largest bitcoin wallet providers. They integrated Bitcoin Cash a few months after its fork.[49]

Notable supporters of Bitcoin Cash include investor Roger Ver,[9] entrepreneur Calvin Ayre,[50] developer Gavin Andresen,[51] and entrepreneur Rick Falkvinge.[52]

Americans wondering whether their acquisition of Bitcoin Cash is taxable as income, or not taxable as a division of property, have received no guidance from the Internal Revenue Service.[53]

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Welcome to TMS

The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) is a professional association that connects minerals, metals, and materials scientists and engineers who work in industry, academia, and government positions around the world.

Many of the programs conducted by TMS are made possible by the generous financial support of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME).

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TMS Delivery | Freight Transportation Services, Trucking …

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Liberal | Definition of Liberal by Merriam-Webster

b archaic : of or befitting a man of free birth

b capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives

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Liberal | Definition of Liberal by Merriam-Webster

liberal – Dictionary Definition : Vocabulary.com

A liberal is someone on the left wing of politics the opposite of a conservative. Also, a liberal attitude toward anything means more tolerance for change.

There are many meanings for liberal, but they mostly have to do with freedom and openness to change. A teacher with a liberal policy toward attendance is going to be forgiving of missed days. A bank with a liberal attitude toward your money would probably be bad: some things are awful if they’re loose and free. But no one will give you a hard time if you use a liberal amount of catsup on your fries.

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Egoism: Examples and Definition | Philosophy Terms

I. Definition

You may think you already know egoism; but youre probably thinking of egotismself-importance, or self-centeredness. In contrast, egoism is the philosophical view that human beings do, or should, always act for their own benefit. Both words are derived from the Latin word for I ego.

Egoism and egotism are quite different. For example, egotists often talk about themselves a lot, not listening to otherswhich makes people dislike them. In contrast, egoists might act very humbly, and pay attention to othersbecause its in their best interests to make people like them and want to treat them well. Egotism is a character trait; egoism is a philosophy.

Even so, you might think that egoists must secretly be egotistsand a lot of philosophers would agree with you. But the point is that egoism does not necessarily violate our usual notions of what is right and wrong. We will return to this questionof whether egoism implies immoralityin other sections.

In fact, some of our highest ideals in the Western worldindividual rights, freedom, and democracydepend on ideas similar to egoism. All of these philosophies depend on the idea that humans normally do or should pursue their own welfare and happiness. The problem, of course, is when your welfare conflicts with someone elsesanother point well discuss below.

But whether you think egoism is right or wrong depends a lot on what kind of egoism youre talking about. The two main kinds of egoism are quite different; descriptive egoism just claims that human being do always act for their own benefit; while normative egoism claims that we should always act for our own benefit.

The most popular variety of descriptive egoism is psychological egoism, which simply claims that whatever a human being does, the ultimate aim is self-benefit. If psychological egoism is correct, it means that even when people appear to act for others benefit, with no concern for themselveswhich is called altruismtheyre actually doing it for their own sake. It doesnt mean that anyone is necessarily trying to be deceptive, or pretending, to help others (although thats a possibility of course). Psychological egoists would say that people may act altruistically because it will be good for them in the long run, or because it makes them feel good when they do it.

There are at least two main categories of psychological egoismdesire-based and objective. The first says that humans are always doing what they desire. For example, even if you say you dont want to do your homework, you do choose to do it; you have the option to not do it, and suffer the consequences. So, you do desire to do your homeworkjust not for its own sake.

But, this kind of psychological egoism seems to be trivially true; it doesnt say why we make what choices we do.

Other kinds of psychological egoism are called objective because they claim that we are always pursuing certain objectives. Some say we always act for pleasure. Others argue that we always pursue whatever we think will bring us the most benefit.

But most philosophers have rejected psychological egoism. For one thing it is probably unprovable because it is a theory about our deepest motivationswhich are private. How could anyone prove whether you help an old lady across the street only for her sake, or because it makes you feel good about yourself? You may not be sure yourself which it is!

But that kind of example is another reason most philosophers reject psychological egoismbecause human beings really do sometimes act for the benefit of others without expecting to any reward for themselves. Altruism; well come back to this debate in section III.

Normative egoism is not about what humans do, but about what they should do. Two kinds of normative egoism are well known:

Ethical egoists may argue that you cannot know what is best for anyone but yourselfand so it is immoral to try. If you try to act in reference to other peoples interests, rather than your own, you can easily do things those people wouldnt want, mess up other peoples lives, or just violate their right to decide what happens to them, which would be immoral. Ethical egoists also might argue that human beings are dependent on one another for survival, so therefore, it is your moral obligation to take care of yourself first, so that others dont have toand so that you have the ability to take care of them. In other words, whats in your best interests is ultimately in everybodys best interests.

Which brings us to rational egoism, which assumes that we should act rationally, which is egoistically. The most famous rational egoist, the writer Ayn Rand, argued strongly against sacrificing ones own interests for others. She argued that not taking full advantage of ones own freedom is immoral because it opposes the natural fulfilment of human potential, which is the best thing for everyone in a society. For example, if I dont work as hard as possible for my own personal success, then I might fail to accomplish many things that would be good for the world.

Nevertheless, many philosophers feel that rational egoism cannot provide a basis for ethical behaviorthat it is, rather, a justification for amorality (no morality), which could be very dangerous.

In the big picture, its worth noting that egoism has been a characteristically Western philosophy since at least Aristotle. Although there were a few ancient Chinese thinkers who had egoistic ideas, in general, egoism is much harder to justify in Eastern thought, where the ego (the personal self) is an illusion that one should try to get over!

In the west, Aristotle is cited for his early contribution to egoism, in the Nicomachean Ethics, where he points out that one must act for ones own benefit in order to be a good friend, or a good citizenbecause you cant do any good for other people if youre not in good condition yourself. However, Aristotle was not really an egoist, because he believed that it was the primary value of helping others that justified helping oneself.

The main ideas of psychological egoism started popping up in Europe during the Reformation (17th century) such as in the writings of philosopher, Thomas Hobbes (see next section for a quote). Hobbes (and others) argued that all voluntary actions are, by definition, egoisticbecause they are voluntary. So, humans are always acting for their own sakes, whether they think so or not.

Many philosophers shared this view during the 18th century, supported by the rationalism of the time. But David Hume, in his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (Appendix IIOf Self Love), set forth some well-known arguments against it. Hume said that psychological egoism denied the reality of such important human feelings as friendship, love, compassion, and gratitude. He also argued that there was no reason to try to reduce the diversity of human motivations to one simple thing. And he pointed out, as many have, that both humans and animals have been observed to act, instinctively for others sakes.

Early normative egoism is often associated with the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche whose ideas about freedom, the will, and the superman, certainly seem to support egoism, and have been used that way, but Nietzsche himself rejected egoism because, he said, being an egoist would have the opposite of the desired effect; it would set other people against you, which is bad for your own success.

The first philosophers to consider themselves egoists were Max Stirner and Henry Sidgwick in the 19th Century. But probably the most popular and controversial spokesperson for egoism was Ayn Rand, who set forth her arguments in The Virtue of Selfishness, and in novels such as Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Adapting some of Nietzsches rhetoric, Rand focused on rational egoism as a rejection of the sacrificial ethics of Christianity; she argued that it is wrong to sacrifice ones own interests for others because it is irrational: the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest. Thus, to her, ethical and rational egoism go together. Her perspective owes a lot to Nietzsches rejection of traditional morality and glorification of the individual will.

Over the past 30 years or so, egoism has faced stronger opposition than before because of scientific research showing that (a) humans and animals do have altruistic instincts, (b) selfish decisions are often not in your best interests, and (c) that altruistic behavior is consistent with evolution. When we were evolving, living in small tribes, most people lived around their many relatives, so doing things for others benefitaltruismcould actually spread ones own genes!

Egoism has always been a controversial theory, and we have sketched some of its debates in the previous sectionssuch as whether it can be moral or not, and whether it needs to be.

Another challenge to egoism is whether its even logically possible. Several philosophers have pointed out that it leads to self-contradictions and irresolvable conflicts. For example, Joseph Butler writes that it may be necessary to act un-selfishly in order to receive benefits, which makes egoism self-contradictory. However, we can get around this paradox by just saying that egoism is acting for long-term benefit.

A bigger problem for psychological egoism is that some behavior just doesnt seem egoistic in any sense. Say a soldier throws himself on a grenade to prevent others from being killed. Its hard to say how that could be in the soldiers selfish interests! Hes not going to benefit from it in the long run, or even be able to enjoy the feeling of being a good person. Egoists might argue that the soldier is deceiving himself if he thinks he acted selflessly; perhaps he was sub-consciously motivated to avoid feeling guilty if he didnt sacrifice himself. But then again, feeling that kind of guilt depends on having non-egoistic motivations, doesnt it? An egoist could also argue that since the soldier made a free decision to jump on the grenade, he was, by definition, following his own desires. However, that argument seems like a cop-out; it avoids resolving the question of why the soldier did it.

The major controversy about normative (ethical or rational) egoism is, of course, whether it can be truly ethical at all, since almost all people agree that an ethical system must encourage us to act for the benefit of other human beings. The main points of debate are whether it is desirable or possible to act selflessly, and whether rational selfishness is or is not really the best thing for others. The answers to these questions depend on answers to many other questions: how interdependent are human beings? Is individual freedom more important than social stability? Is individuality an illusion? So, this debate will doubtless not soon be settled!

Ethics has to recognize the truth, recognized in unethical thought, that egoism comes before altruism. The acts required for continued self-preservation, including the enjoyments of benefits achieved by such arts, are the first requisites to universal welfare. Unless each duly cares for himself, his care for all others is ended in death, and if each thus dies there remain no others to be cared for. Herbert Spencer

In this argument for ethical egoism, Herbert Spencer, a 19th century British philosopher, seems to echo Aristotles original justification for some degree of egoismthat a person needs to take care of their own needs and happiness before they can take care of others. Often accused of inconsistency, Spencer was an egoist who also believed that human beings have a natural sense of empathy and should care for each other, although at the same time, he believed that altruism was a relatively recent development in humans.

What interest can a fond mother have in view, who loses her health by assiduous attendance on her sick child, and afterwards languishes and dies of grief, when freed, by its death [the childs], from the slavery of that attendance? David Hume

Hume, a famous opponent of psychological realism, here gives an example that demonstrates several of his arguments against egoism. Hume pointed out that human beings have certain innate non-egoist instincts, such as the compulsion of a mother to sacrifice herself for her children. And even if she does so, selfishly, in order to feel good herself, that doesnt explain why she dies of grief after her child dies.

Altruism is the opposite of egoism the motivation or practice of doing things to benefit others, without expecting any benefit for oneself. However, most of the debates about egoism and altruism are not about whether its good to benefit others or not, which almost everyone agrees on, but whether egoism or altruism are actually beneficial, or even possible.

Just as psychological egoism could be rejected on the basis that its impossible to prove peoples motivations, many philosophers have questioned whether it is possible to prove altruistic motivations either. As descriptions of human nature, egoism and altruism seem to compete on equal grounds; you can pretty much always argue that any action was really motivated by egoism or really altruism, but you cant prove it.

As normative philosophies, about what people should do, most philosophers agree that ethical behavior is behavior which is good for people in generalso you might assume that altruism should win automatically. But there are some pretty good arguments that altruistic action depends on egoist motivations; you might not help that old lady cross the street if you didnt care about feeling good about yourself. And egoists may argue that its immoral to decide whats in other peoples best interests.On the side of altruism is the universal belief that morality means being good to others and the evidence that empathy, compassion, and altruism are natural instincts.

Many popular films feature egoist villainssociopaths who pursue their own gain without regard for others. But Heath Ledgers Joker in Christopher Nolans Dark Knight goes further. Late in the movie he actually sets up a version of The Prisoners Dilemmaa scenario from game theory which philosophers have used to explore the egoism versus altruism debate. The Joker intends to prove to all that his view of human naturepsychological egoismis true. He believes that one or both boats will try to blow up the other one in order to save their own lives, according to the Jokers rulesbut they refuse to cooperate, seemingly proving that humans are not entirely egoistic. Throughout the film, the Joker represents the egoist view as he repeatedly exploits his enemies egoism. But in the end, Batman supposedly demonstrates that altruism is real by taking the fall for a politician he doesnt even likefor the good of the people of Gotham.

Both of the Star Trek films featuring Khan, Captain Kirks worst enemy, explore the consequences of egoist versus altruist views. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, we learn that Khans murderous anger towards humanity is partly a result of Captain Kirks earlier action of marooning Khan and his people on a then hospitable planetwhich later suffered an environmental disaster killing most of Khans people. This is a clear illustration of the ethical egoists claim that trying to act in others interests may be immoral. Furthermore, Kirks failure to check up on Khan on the planet suggests that Kirk was not really acting altruistically, but rather egoistically, supporting the views of psychological egoism. Meanwhile, Khan believes that he has a natural right to dominate, based on his superior intellect and strength, a view commonly associated with rational egoism and Ayn Rand. Of course in the end, Mr. Spock demonstrates altruism by sacrificing himself to save the rest of the Enterprise crew, repeating an idea clearly meant to prove that altruism is more rational than egoismthe needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

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