Monday, June 07, 2010

A Possible New Edition of my Machinery of Freedom

It looks as though I may be putting together a third edition of my first book, with a good deal of added material based on things I have written since. I expect that some readers of this blog are familiar with the book and some of my other writing, so thought it would be worth collecting opinions on what is worth including. The following is my tentative list of chapters for the new Part V; I am interested in suggestions both with regard to what is there that shouldn't be and what is not there that should.

A positive account of Property Rights
A World of Strong Privacy
Problems with Ayn Rand
National Defense: Further Thoughts on a Hard Problem
Market Failure, Considered as an Argument For and Against Government
Lessons from Other Legal Systems
Capitalist Trucks
The Economics of Virtue and Vice
The Weak Case for Public Schooling
Welfare and Immigration
Anarchy and Efficient Law


Anonymous said...

Perhaps a chapter on alternative approaches to market anarchy, strengths and weaknesses?

Allen Dalton said...


This is great news! I would suggest adding a chapter on "libertarian" paternalism.

Jonathan said...

I already have several copies of The Machinery of Freedom, including two different editions, but I'll be up for another one, especially if you have some new thinking to include. Sorry, no suggestion immediately comes to mind.

Albert Ling said...

- Explain your take on consequentialist basis for liberty vs. the "natural rights", deontological argument.
- More descriptions on how free banking / monetary system would work in today's economy
- On National security, give some thought to the future problem of bioterrorism

David, why don't you write these new thoughts under a different title? It seems you have material for many new books not just a revised edition.

VangelV said...

I look forward to another edition. Most of my previous dozen or so copies have been claimed 'lost' by friends who have borrowed them. (It is amazing how much of an interest there is for the idea of liberty even among people who have been taught to embrace statism.)

My suggestions are simple.

You may wish to take a look at the book Anarchy and the Law, which has excerpts of Machinery and Freedom in it, and see if there are any topics that interest you and that you may wish to expand upon.

Many of my friends have shown great interested in Paul Cantor's ideas about Commerce and Culture. If you have not heard the lectures on the Mises site, I strongly recommend them.

Prof Shikida said...

it´s my favourite book of all times! Yes, it´s true.

Anyway, I would like to see more non-US examples in this book. From Brazil (and I couldn´t see prof. Friedman here, last April), I see a lot of resistance to libertarian ideas. Even a debate, for example, about this book would be impossible here. Not so many people thinks some basic ideas about economics (which, often, correlates positively with libertarian thoughts) are reasonable. So, why so few libertarianism here? And how about the rest of the world?

Another topic someone suggested is the national security in US and terrorism. I would also suggest this and another one about the property rights in media production. Open access software, sharing mp3 or movies (I am thinking about that book by two professors in UCLA, if I am not wrong, about the end of copyright or something like this).

I will be very happy to buy the new one edition (and I would pay more if topics like those are included :) ).

Will May said...

I would enjoy seeing more of your thoughts on national defense, because that's my biggest concern about market anarchism.

That, and lessons from other legal systems, which sounds intriguing.

The rest, for one reason or another, don't appeal to me as much-- either because I'm not interested in ethical debates, I don't feel like it directly relates to market anarchism (which is my primary interest in this book), or it's been said before (like government failure arguments).

Though I guess Market Failure and Anarchy and Efficient Law would work very well for people who haven't been introduced to the concepts already.

Perry E. Metzger said...

Exceptionally pleased to hear you're doing a third edition.

My only suggestion: an up to date "further reading" section.

Derrick said...

In the "Problems with Ayn Rand" section, you could point out that Objectivism leaves no room for people to form communities and voluntarily act in cooperative ways. Ex: open-source software, farm co-ops, communes, mutual aid societies, nonprofit insurance collectives. See: Elinor Ostrom

I blame Ayn Rand for spreading the idea among libertarians (and the perception of libertarianism among the general public) that every endeavour has to involve the exchange of money. It's quite possible for a community of people to, say, work together and build a nice park. And, it's entirely compatible with libertarianism (and market anarchism) since it's voluntary.

Mike Hammock said...

Are you removing the readings on Universities, then? I always thought those chapters felt out of place and I wouldn't miss them.

I would like it if the section on anarchy addressed some of Tyler Cowen's criticisms (which you have addressed elsewhere in the past). Or perhaps just a general list of more recent criticisms and responses.

I, too, would like more discussion of your consequentialist arguments for libertarianism (as opposed to natural rights or Objectivist arguments).

More on immigration would be nice. I don't really want to read much macroeconomics or monetary stuff. That's just my personal bias, however--I think macro is boring and confused.

___________________________ said...

It has been awhile since I read your book, but I would think there needs to be something on free-banking, and perhaps general macroeconomic stability issues.

After all, if a student of economics reads your book, one of the major things they'll think about is the money supply and another major thing is business cycles. Particularly given that free banking is never mentioned in undergraduate classes, but monetary policy is mentioned quite frequently.

Just my 2 cents though.

___________________________ said...

Second note: Maybe I forgot, or missed something, or some of what I might have been looking for wasn't in the edition of the book I did read. As I said, it has been a long time since I have read this book.

James said...

Another vote for Free Banking

Anonymous said...

David, I am very glad you are doing this.

I was going through your articles earlier today, and came across the one titled "Rational Criminals and Profit Maximizing Police," in which you state:

"If a crime produces a net benefit, if the gain to the speeder ... is more than the loss to the rest of us, we are better off not deterring it."

I agree whole-heartedly with this sentiment, but I do not think the rest of the population does. In fact, I have talked with many people who seem to think that the guilty should be punished regardless of the consequences, and that the suffering of the guilty is a prima facie good because they deserve it.

In other words, I think you should include a paragraph or perhaps a whole chapter explaining why you are a consequentialist with regard to punishment and not a retributivist, if in fact that is your position.

jimbino said...

I'd like to see a chapter on Extended Statism, which would consider government programs things like control of our choice of mates, number of children, diets and physical exercise regimens.

We Amerikans used to imagine that we had the right to make free choices in healthcare, smoking and drinking. No longer so!

Anonymous said...

Given the all idea of self-ownership being a big part of the natural rights brand of libertarianism, I always thought your book lacked a brief paragraph digressing into this account for the legitimacy of private property rights in additions to your utilitarian arguments like your mathematical treatment of land income.

Sure, you make it very clear, you take an utilitarian approach to libertarianism, but given you do introduce natural rights arguments throughout the book, I think such a thing would make the book a pretty complete introduction to libertarianism.

Other than that, you've some excellent material on your Law's Order book that would fit pretty well, and would make people think about alternative political orders, and I'm sure you could borrow some exciting material from your lectures too.
Maybe adding a brief paragraph of Bryan Caplan insights on voter behavior into your majority decision making discussion would be interesting. Maybe discussing Adam Smith points on public companies decision making, and possibly limited liability (timely with the bailouts and the oil split), which is something you do discuss in Price Theory, would be interesting.

John said...

Wishlist: ;)

(Paraphrased: "Much is made of the difference between the "Austrian" and "Chicago" schools of economics, mostly by people who understand neither. I am classified as 'Chicago'"

Since the day I read this, (I think beneath the "Human Action" recommendation) I have been interested in an elaboration. I'm a beginning econ student and overexposed to Austrians - I would love an essay describing your perspective on both schools, primarily because you didn't seem pleased to be clearly classified, but also because of the rift among libertarians.

I'd like to see the entire list in your post added to the book, but the ones I'm most interested in are: "Market Failure, Considered as an argument for and against Government", "A Positive account of Property rights", "Lessons from Other Legal Systems", and "National Defense: Further Thoughts on a Hard Problem".

I'll agree with others that a section on Free banking would fit the book and be interesting.

A further expanded recommended reading section would be interesting. (It's large already, but I love that kind of thing.)

More on the work of other anarchists would be interesting. Anthony de Jasay, for instance.

Anonymous said...

I would love current evidence of the FDA claim.

I would prefer a "Problems with John Rawls" section. If you want the Ayn Rand section as well, thats fine. But I will never understand why libertarians spend so much time discrediting other libertarians in their major works (e.g., Rothbard's Ethics of Liberty). Im no fan of Rand, but why not use those pages on Rawls, Dworkin, etc.?

J. V. said...

As the impetus for the new edition I fully expect to be credited in the book.

Just kidding.

Peter A. Taylor said...

I would like to see the efficiency proof included (ie. an excerpt from "Should Medicine be a Commodity?"). As a lay person, I learned a great deal from this. My other favorite is the article on evolutionary psychology.

I would sacrifice the article on "Capitalist Trucks." I despise deed restrictions and community associations, and think the historical argument that they are likely to be less evil than zoning laws, while correct, is weak.

Anonymous said...

duIn the words of Sally Albright:

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

This is the book that turned me into an anarcho-capitalist over 30 years ago. Recommendations:

(1) Address Jeff Hummel's insight on the role of ideology, his claim that the problem of national defense and the problem of getting to a libertarian society may be the same problem, and his challenge that the tax rate of a Washington-based government over Americans is actually higher than a Moscow (Beijing? Al Qaeda?)-based one would be because of importance of ideology.

(2) Discuss how collective defense might be financed, considering some of the ideas I presented along with the link to Roderick Long's thoughts at:

(3) Popularize some of your thoughts on justice and punishment of actions that don't harm but increase the probability of catastrophic harm from Law's Order.

(4) Discuss anarchist answers to environmental issues, perhaps discussing climate futures and other market sharing of risk.

(5) Free banking a la Selgin/White.

(6) In Welfare & Immigration section, discuss U of Hawaii Prof Ken Schoolland's evidence that people move FROM the high welfare states TO the low welfare states.

(7) Add commons under anarchy, perhaps incorporating Elinor Ostrom's Governing the Commons and/or Roderick Long's defense of commons under market anarchism. Consider problem of world of proprietary communities being indistinguishable from government to people born after all property is private.

(8) In Positive case for property rights, consider John Hasnas' Toward a Theory of Empirical Natural Rights citing customary law exceptions to property rights that developed.

(9) On getting from here to there, discuss British anti-slavery movement a la Buried In Chains as previous example of persuasion, ostracism, and boycott leading to major libertarian success.

(10) More generally, add more on Social Norms (see Ariely), adding to excellent example of tipping with other examples of social norms overriding homo economicus (buying green products, voting). Turn Rand Paul incident around by noting freedom of non-association empowers community action against racists. In short, try to appeal to thoughtful progressives more than earlier editions did.

But most importantly, DO IT, because having TMOF back in print will increase the probability of the world being freer in the future.

Trader said...

Yes please. This is the best news of today:)

Carl Jakobsson said...

A review on the empirical literature on private law and policing since -89 would be nice.

Marc said...

Kindle edition/ebook please!

Anonymous said...

Write about children's rights in an anarcho-capitalistic system and how children are protected against parental abuse.
Also, write something about abortion.
Since children and fetus don't have their own defense contractor, how are their rights protected?

A blog post is fine, too.

grammar commenter said...

And another vote for free banking. What do you think about Kevin J. Dowd?

heiner said...

This might be much to ask, but maybe some analysis about how to get from here to there? And what has being going wrong in countries without a strong government, in which mafia-like structures prevent the creation of wealth (Lebanon, large parts of Africa). I think most skeptics are concerned about anarchy going into this direction.

Hume said...

I think the biggest issue re: "getting from here to there" relates to the structure of society as it is today and the unjust allocations of power resulting from state interventions in the market. Many anarchists attempt to show what an anarcho society would look had it evolved from scratch and how it would have been more efficient, etc. (eg, anarchism can provide roads). The problem is that society and infrastructure has developed around a market dominated by state interference. So if one were to just sell off the roads to private parties, these parties would be in a monopolistic position. If such a position was the result genuine competition, so be it. But that is not the case here. So I think this is a major problem in anarchist economic theory.

sconzey said...

1. Excellent. I've been meaning to grab a copy, and was rather put off by Amazon listing it as costing £111.

2. I'd be interested to hear your perspectives on agorism.

Unknown said...

New Edition?!!

I read it as soon as possible.
This program is running fast, and I sincerely hope "Machinery of Freedom 3rd" Japanese translation version is coming.

Josh W. said...

I'm interested in both free banking and what your father thought of anarchy.

Jeff said...

I'd just like to second putting it out in a Kindle/eBook version.

I'm just about finished reading the 2nd edition (I'm at the end about to start the chapter where you talk about Iceland [I believe it's Iceland anyway, haven't started yet]). A friend got it for me for my birthday and I gotta say I absolutely love it. Your father's Free to Choose and TMOF are two of the most influential books I've ever read.

Kid said...

Best news I've heard in a long while.

I'd like to put in another vote for an ebook edition.

Maurizio said...

That's great news! I'll buy it as soon as it's out. I still haven't read the other comments, however I'd like to see in it:

1. as much evidence as possible about diseconomies of scale in the market for protection. How big would protection agencies firms be? Would they be big enough to form a cartel? I seem to recall somewhere you provided evidence for diseconomies of scale, noting how the State police spontaneously decides to split itself into more or less independent departments (excuse the nontechnical terms). More evidence or arguments along these lines would be appreciated (e.g. why should a big agency be more efficient than a small agency in patrolling a neighborhood?)

2. a less technical rebuttal of Cowen's argument (which also involves the size of the economies of scale in the market for protection).

3. something about the problems (and the circularity) of the social contract theory (like points 12 to 15 here. You are strong here, but you seldom write about it. In particular I would like a rebuttal of the argument that the State is not really aggressing (or coercing) you when it takes part of the product of your labor by force, it is just repossessing what is legitimately his.

4. something about the privatization of roads. Highways are easy to privatize, but wouldn't the privatizazion of small roads have big transaction costs? (However it is possible you already discussed this in the bried chapter on roads. Apologies if this is true).

5. something about the privatization of oceans; how this could you "homestead" a piece of ocean?

6. a discussion about why we don't need a central bank. (Personally I'd buy the book just to read your opinion on the Austrian Business Cycle Theory [namely the theory that artificially low interest rates fool entrepreneurs into starting projects which are doomed to fail because the savings necessary to complete them all do not exist] as revised by Garrison, but I have given up the hope. :) )

If something more comes to mind, I will write it here.


Gary Y. said...

I confess I have become a little despondent about "getting there from here." Back in the day, when I was learning to be a libertarian, TMOF was a Bible and I confidently expected that, one day, I would be able to live in a libertarian world - or at least, a libertarian country.

Since then, I have seen several libertarian country projects come and go, with your son's newer project, Seasteading, the only one currently viable. (I applaud the Free State Project, but don't see it as creating a libertarian country.)

I know there are pluses. Julian Simon thinks there are a lot of pluses. Yet, it's hard to see that we've made any substantial progress toward creating a truly libertarian society and too many indications that we're moving in entirely the wrong direction.

I know the thrust of your book was simply to show that it was not altogether impossible for a anarchic, libertarian society to work. Perhaps as an afterthought, you tossed in a chapter indicating how that might come about.

With several decades experience now under your belt, perhaps you can more strongly address what has worked, what hasn't and where we should go from here.


Will May said...


It just so happens that I am a Free Stater.

With less than 1000 activists in NH, we are already having a noticeable effect. (Free Staters are directly responsible for the continued lack of seat belt laws, a major relaxation of knife laws-- I believe we now have complete knife freedom-- and we are on the precipice of medical marijuana.) Practically all of these activists support secession.

10,000 people are currently signed up for the FSP, with more joining constantly. I would guess that, if even half of these people moved, there's a strong chance we would secede.

The numbers are small, but the average FSPer is 100x more politically active than the average New Hampshirite, and our state politics reflects that.

Anonymous said...

@ Josh W.

With regard to his father, in a 1973 interview in Playboy, Milton Friedman was asked:

PLAYBOY: It’s clear by now that you agree with Thomas Jefferson that the government that governs least governs best, that you don’t think the Federal Government should interfere with any private, free-market arrangements whatsoever. But what about such efforts on the municipal level? Some communities, for example, are trying to keep out subdivisions, industry, nuclear power plants, and so on, in order to reduce the impact of commercialism. Do you feel they have this right?
FRIEDMAN: Of course. What you want is a world in which individuals have a wide variety of alternatives. You want pluralism, multiplicity of choice. When you get down to small units of government, you have it. If you don’t like what one town does and can’t change it, you move to another town. You have competition among towns for the provision of services. No reason you shouldn’t. On the whole, the formal restrictions on governmental activity should be most severe at the Federal level, less so at the state level and least of all at the local level.

PLAYBOY: Then you aren’t an anarchist?
FRIEDMAN: No. Although I wish the anarchists luck, since that’s the way we ought to be moving now.

Lo Statuz said...

I'd like to hear your take on futarchy, though not necessarily in this book.

David Friedman said...

Several people want me to include something on free banking. It's already there--Chapter 46 of the (current) second edition.

So far as an ebook is concerned, my present plan, once I have the copyright back, is to make a pdf of the current edition available for free on my web site and sell hardcopies and possibly ebook versions of the third edition when there is one.

Doc Merlin said...

This would be awesome. The old editions are selling for outrageous prices.

I also echo the need for a chapter against paternalism.

typeA said...

>Several people want me to include something on free banking. It's already there--Chapter 46 of the (current) second edition.
Free-banking theory, however, it should be quite different in the theory that the insistence of the exogenous money supply and another one that the insistence of the endogenous money supply theory.I wish for more detailed description of free-banking theory.

Anonymous said...

I would like the section on Iceland expanded with more current examples, e.g. involving Somalia and the Soroland region in Côte d'Ivoire. Mostly because those areas are used as modern examples of anarchy, although I don't know if that's true or to what extent.

Maurizio said...

I too would like a rebuttal of the "what about Somalia?" argument against anarchy.

Michael Wiebe said...

Your proposed chapter list looks great!

I would like to see your thoughts on anarchy as a research program, like Boettke did in this paper.

chriscal12 said...

Some others have already mentioned this, but I would like to concur. I would be thrilled to hear you flesh out your opinions on the differences between the Austrian and Chicago schools of economics. Beyond the general libertarian interest in the subject, it seems that you are uniquely suited to weigh in on the debate between these schools. You're well versed in both traditions, and you're probably the most influential libertarian anarchist alive today.

HispanicPundit said...

This always happens to me. As soon as I buy a book and read it, the author decides to create another edition. This just happened to me with the Judith Harris book too. Then I feel like I am missing out and have to buy the latest one. Grrrr...

So for purely selfish reasons, I say DONT DO IT! Haha.

A.C. Houston said...

I bought a copy of MoF last year, and will look forward to your new edition!

Somewhat off topic, but I saw today that F.A. Hayek's collected works (Road to Serfdom edited by B. Caldwell) is #1 best seller at Amazon.

Ben Kalafut said...

"A positive account of Property Rights"

I've read some of your papers on this topic--excellent! But for the book, if for no other reason than the casual "Austrian" doesn't read papers, an aggressive takedown of Rothbardism and "natural" property rights that somehow, magically, resemble the English freehold, is in order.

Bob Murphy said...

Hi David,

I have written a short essay (#2 in this pamphlet [pdf]) that tries to deal with the alleged free rider problem of national defense. It doesn't directly dissolve the problem, but I think the problem is not nearly as big as many libertarians make it out to be.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see one or more chapters about:

1) the links between libertarianism and psychology, evolutionary psychology in particular (for example, the way in which modern preference for statism/"popular economics" might emerge from the fact that people are evolutionarily designed for life in small groups of people)

2) more concrete steps and better explanations on how to solve public goods problems/market failure scenarios/prisoner's dillema type of games in anarcho-capitalism. A more in-depth discussion, with empirical data, on monopolies and cartels would also add to the book, since I think people are hardwired to think in a certain way about those issues (I know I am to a degree).

3) the way in which anarcho-capitalism can survive in a non-anarcho-capitalistic world; how such a society can defend itself and its (presumably large) wealth against aggressors who might distribute more money (than the equilibrium normally reached by a free market) to their armies. (I don't see any other solution to this problem than settling into a new frontier)

4) the way in which anarcho-capitalism can survive subversion from within; specifically how can its freedoms be preserved under a constant flux of immigrants who might share high birth rates and an intolerant, nonlibertarian ideology (the constant fear under which open critics of Islam live in some European countries that have embraced mass immigration points to this exact problem; in my view, mass immigration and guaranteeing the right to free speech can prove very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile in practice). Another similar question: is it wise for a culture with enough people educated enough to have generated an anarcho-capitalist society to welcome people belonging to an inferior culture, perhaps one that is more violent, imperialistic, champions dogma over reason etc.? Also, how does this reconcile with the biological preference for kin? People might think it's better to leave the accumulated wealth of the anarcho-capitalist society to their children only, and not share it with strangers who had no contribution in building it.

5) The failures of democracy and the importance of good education in establishing a well-functioning market (I guess Bryan Caplan's book Myth of the Rational Voter handles those pretty well, but I would like to hear your opinion)

Anonymous said...

And another point which might be important, which is a higher-level view of points 3) and 4) :

6) How can anarcho-capitalism thrive in an evironment of competing memes, some of which are parasitic in nature and highly virulent; and how can anarcho-capitalism and libertarianism in general guard against them? (Sean Hastings and Paul Rosenberg have written about this in their book "God Wants You Dead").

Here I would like you to also discuss the words written by Karl Popper in his book, "The Open Society and its Enemies":

"The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato.
Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal."

Maurizio said...


I think you should define the word "freedom", stressing the distinction between "negative freedom", i.e. absence of invasion of your property, and "positive freedom", which is a synonym of "opportunity" or "physical capability" to do something. The left tends to use the positive definition, but a pure libertarian uses the negative. For example, according to the negative definition, a hermit who lives on a mountain might be close to starving, and have very few opportunities, but he is completely free nonetheless. Many find this claim counterintuitive, and this is IMHO sufficient reason to provide a clear definition. I also seem to recall that, in Machinery Of Freedom, you haven't always used the negative sense.

Also, some problems you discuss would be clearer if you had made this distinction explicit. For example, take this excerpt:

"we have freedom of the press. Things are not printed for free, but they are printed if someone is willing to pay the cost. "

After reading it, someone may think "but if I do not have the money, in the end I am not physically capable of printing it, so I am not really free" or "to talk of freedom in this case is a joke". The reply is, of course, "you do have freedom of press, because nobody prevents you with invasive acts, or with the threat of invasive acts, to print and distribute what you like. You are free to do it, it's just you don't have the means."

I have to admit I did not have this distinction clear after reading MOF; it only became clear after reading the Ethics of Liberty appendix.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you could direct your book more strategically towards the Libertarian streak that seems to be underpinning the Tea Party American politics today. Most important to me is that someone finally clarify a framework for Libertarian society to definitively move us past the mess of our current political systems. This has to be fundamentally an intellectual work, but with broader appeal.
For many years I've been wanting to define the 'best' framework of Libertarian thought but remain somewhat muddled-- to give you an example, your book, the Machinery of Freedom and Murray Rothbard's The Libertarian Manifesto were both inspirational to me. Another inspiration for many Libertarians is the Constitution of the U.S. and the theory of a Constitutional Republic. However, I never felt I could reconcile various 'competing' versions of Libertarianism, nor do I have confidence that re-establishing a constitutional republic won't just morph right back into the kind of system we have today. I think, however, that you are probably one of the few people on the planet today who has the intellectual capability to put this whole thing together in the way it needs to be done.

Rafael Hotz said...

Secession and counter-economics as a possible way to weaken the nation-state.

Maurizio said...


Regarding the paradox of the madmen and the rifle (in chapter "problems"), I think you should at least address the following response:

Libertarian theory only states that who stole the gun is responsible for any damages (including psychic ones) inflicted upon the misanthrope as a consequence of stealing the gun. In general, if you do something with X without the consent of the owner of X, you accept the risk to inflict damage to the owner, and are responsible for any damage caused. I don't see a contradiction in this view, or even a problem; indeed it seems to produce the most reasonable outcome. Let us make the worst case possible: suppose you save the world with the old man's gun, but lightly scratch the gun in the process. What outcome is the most reasonable? That (A) you be made a national hero, or (B) that you be made a national hero and _then_ are forced to repay the small damage to the old men? (B) clearly seems to me the most desirable outcome. But this is precisely what is prescribed by libertarian theory.

Robert Vienneau said...

I know you write about the Marxian idea that returns to capital arise from the exploitation of capital. Since you wrote the first edition, the whole school of analytical Marxism has arisen. How about a comment on their formalism?

Unknown said...

Again, this is great news. Your work is the clearest exposition I have ever read in this subject area.

I would like some more on the relative effectiveness of civil/criminal law, having recently been the subject of a criminal investigation (that was dropped after a year - when the police realised they were embarrassing themselves). The police were scarily ineffective, ill educated and high handed. Example telephone call (police man: could I have your telephone number please, me: but you just called me on it, police man: oh). In general in the UK (no doubt elsewhere too) laws are made with the frequency a prostitute gets busy when the sailors come to town, but the implementation of the law is slapdash at best. This leads me to the data privacy act. Again, a UK issue, but a very good example of a law made with good intentions (well maybe) but completely unenforcable.

Somebody mentioned the topic of 'libertarian' parternalism. I agree with this. More generally, I find it exiting that economics seems to have found its footing again with behavioural and experimental economics, but am deeply concerned that the prospect of designing policies that actually work as intended is leaving big state interventionists salivating. I did think that it may be fun to do a phd in behavioural economics, but the last realisation gave me pause for thought.

Some more on the economics of the issues you considered in 'future imperfect'. I would be interested in reading your thoughts on the economics of the singularity. E.g. does economics have a point when there is no more scarcity.

I am very interested in the ethics of property rights in connection with the rise of data piracy. Having artists in the family I do believe it is immoral to simply take tv shows and music off the internet without paying. However, the infringements on freedom required to enforce anti-piracy laws are to my mind unacceptable. Furthermore, I don't find it intuitive that the governments can restrain new found freedoms that technology has made possible, in order to prevent an 'old world' business model. It would seem very bizarre if the business model was one of a slightly more distant past, or one that had not yet been contemplated, but that could be contrived by assigning some rights to a group of people, and putting in place the legal framework and enforcement mechanisms to protect these.

I would quite like to hear your views on macroeconomics. Maybe 'Macroeconomics' by David Friedman one day.

Something on the economics of family relationships, including those with more than one man/woman in the family.

Anonymous said...

How about:

"Subsidies and privileges of private car"

Cristian Vimer said...

David, I apologize for being shallow and not reading your older posts. It would be great to read a new edition of your book, in a society that seems to be leaning more and more towards left (except maybe for the Tea Party movement - I don't know what to think about these guys - are they for real? It seems to me that it's more of a show than a real grassroots movement). It would be interesting to see how will the internet affect the ideas in the book (I remember the discussion about TV stations, which doesn't apply anymore).
I believe also that it would be interesting to read a more detailed chapter about the steps to be taken if we were to start changing the present society and move towards an ideal anarcho-capitalist system.
One question that's been in my mind for a while is how can such a society protect itself from a group of people that will decide to form a government (and they should be totally free to do it, there shouldn't be any laws to stop them - here is an interesting take on this issue - What if they decide to declare themselves an independent state, or, worse, if they claim to be the real rulers of the country?
Also, it is my opinion that this book, or maybe another one, should focus more on the anarcho-capitalist society, its obvious benefits, and how it is possible to go in that direction, instead of discussing in detail the differences in opinion with libertarians, objectivists, etc. I agree with all your arguments in favor of an anarcho-capitalist system, but I also believe that it is more important, and more difficult, to convince the left-leaning population that the government is the problem, and not the solution. I know it is propaganda, and, maybe, it shouldn't be this new edition of the book, but I believe that we need propaganda in order to spread our ideas (and I am trying to do my part trying to be a missionary, without being annoying, of course, because I hate people with agendas, and no logic, that they shove down your throat).
I agree with many of your readers in saying that you have enough material for more than one book.

Cristian Vimer said...

I think I have to post another comment - it seems to be too long to be published, so here it goes. One question that's been in my mind for a while is how can such a society protect itself from a group of people that will decide to form a government (and they should be totally free to do it, there shouldn't be any laws to stop them - here is an interesting take on this issue - What if they decide to declare themselves an independent state, or, worse, if they claim to be the real rulers of the country?
Also, it is my opinion that this book, or maybe another one, should focus more on the anarcho-capitalist society, its obvious benefits, and how it is possible to go in that direction, instead of discussing in detail the differences in opinion with libertarians, objectivists, etc. I agree with all your arguments in favor of an anarcho-capitalist system, but I also believe that it is more important, and more difficult, to convince the left-leaning population that the government is the problem, and not the solution. I know it is propaganda, and, maybe, it shouldn't be this new edition of the book, but I believe that we need propaganda in order to spread our ideas (and I am trying to do my part trying to be a missionary, without being annoying, of course, because I hate people with agendas, and no logic, that they shove down your throat).
I agree with many of your readers in saying that you have enough material for more than one book.

Latarnik said...

I can not wait to have a new edition. I started to translate the whole book into Polish, but a Publisher decided not to print it (or pay me!) since many details were badly obsolete. I asked you and your parents to write update to the book, but failed.
I am glad that you are contemplating new edition and I ma have some suggestions about it. Please keep me posted.
Mark Jaworski