Monday, January 13, 2014

Request for Help: Machinery of Freedom 3rd Edition Appendix

Appendix 2 of my Machinery of Freedom lists books, magazines, articles and organizations likely to be of interest to my readers. It was last updated (by my friend Jeff Hummel) about fifteen years ago, when the second edition was produced. I am currently working on the third edition, which I hope to have out, probably with my current publisher, sometime this year, and could use help updating the appendix.

If you know of a book, magazine, organization, web page, blog, or anything else along those general lines that you think I should add, let me know, either as a comment here or as an email. To see what is currently in the appendix, some of it doubtless now out of date, you can download the pdf of the book from my web page.

I have also webbed the current drafts of the new chapters for the new edition for comments. Comments pointing out typos are useful, comments on what parts are unclear or seem to be wrong even more useful.


Unknown said...

Sturgeon’s Law might be more true of libertarian publications and organizations (online and offline) than anything else. Why bother crowd-sourcing the appendix? I suggest sticking to things you personally find worth reading.

At the end of a meal at a five-star restaurant, the waiter does not say, “Hey, I thought you might want to know about the White Castle down the street.” For the same reason, I see no need for the appendix to Machinery of Freedom to tell people about

Anonymous said...

Where's is Thomas Sowell? How about his "Knowledge and Decisions,"or just about anything else.

Anonymous said...

What about Huemer: The Problem of Political Authority.

Matthew Munoz said...

Social Contract, Free Ride by Anthony de Jasay has the strongest case I've come across for propertarian anarchism.

Anarchy, State, and Public Choice, edited by Edward Stringham goes through many of the economic arguments pro and con, but the statist side doesn't get quite an equal chance, as their papers were written well in advance.

Escape from Leviathan by J. C. Lester delves into more fundamental philosophical difficulties with the morals of libertarian anarchism, he's a Popperian with an interesting synthesis of act-utilitarianism and the Austrian-style "rationality" model (not a natural rights theorist).

These are technical books rather than introductions, but I think they're the best arguments available. Also, you should include your Law's Order. It's not strictly on-topic, but the arguments in it make MoF a lot more convincing.

Stepping a bit outside libertarianism, Moral Principles and Political Obligations is a great book on philosophical anarchism by A. J. Simmons. If you've read the recent Huemer book, it's where many of those arguments come from.

Paul Sand said...

I have both first and second editions; looking forward to buying the third.

About the appendix:

I see Charles Murray's Losing Ground, which is fine, but I remember being very impressed with his In Pursuit.

Also: The Future and Its Enemies by Virginia Postrel.

More recent: The Problem of Political Authority by Michael Huemer.

Anonymous said...

The Problem of Political Authority by Dr. Michael Huemer makes a case for anarcho-capitalism based on ethical intuitionism which seems to "connect" with the average person more than a theory of natural rights or utilitarianism.

Patrick Sullivan said...

James Rolph Edwards' 'Painful Birth: How Chile Became a Free and Prosperous Society'

Anonymous said...

How about Anti-Fragile by Nassim Taleb? His main point is that a society that functions without central planning is more immune to shocks compared to societies subject to central planning. This fits the society you portray.

Anonymous said...

I also suggest Robert Paul Wolff's In Defence of Anarchism and Peter Marshall's Demanding the Impossible. The latter book discusses the history of anarchism overall and does not limit it to anarcho-capitalism. He also mentions you as I remember.

Paul Sand said...

OK, thought of one more, probably for the "Movement" section: Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement by Brian Doherty.

Unknown said...

Definitely "The Problem of Political Authority" by Michael Huemer

J. V. said...


1. The Problem of Political Authority by Michael Huemer

2. The State by Anthony de Jasay

Matthew Munoz said...

Above, I meant "preference" rather than "act" utilitarianism. R. M. Hare is mentioned specifically if I remember correctly.

Also I forgot to mention For and Against the State, which you should already know about, since you have a paper in it.

John T. Kennedy said...

Huemer's latest book, The Problem of Political Authority should be of interest.

Anonymous said...

I second J. C. Lester's "Escape From Leviathan", which was republished as an inexpensive paperback by the University of Buckingham Press. I hope that you will read and review it, David.

Brian Meehan said...

Bruce L. Benson's:

1. The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State

2. To Serve and Protect: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice

Anonymous said...

I always regarded Animal Farm by George Orwell a very important book for Libertarianism, the message in it is often overlooked. It was one of the most influencial books I've read, next to Free to Choose.

RJM said...

@David: Are you going to edit the Chapter 42 (Part IV) "Where I stand"?

I found this Chapter particularly useful and insightful. It seems to be a quite honest account on your position and the challenges related to it.
Not only, I think, few writers are capable of a proper presentation of their position with regards to conflicting views, but also your position is quite original and differentiated, which makes it stand apart from other popular positions in the libertarian realm.

Now one thing, however, made it a little difficult for me to understand the chapter.
E.g. you write "Through most of this book I have used utilitarian
arguments to justify libertarian conclusions." and later "Although I reject utilitarianism as the ultimate standard for what should or should not happen, I believe that utilitarian
arguments are usually the best way to defend libertarian views."

I suspect you use the term ''utilitarian'' in two different ways here.

There is, firstly, the big ethical theory of Utilitarianism. It's that consequentialist view on morality. One reiterated criticism on Utilitarianism goes like: "According to Utilitarianism rape would be ok, once the pleasure of the rapist is bigger than the suffering of the victim". Or, if I hear David D. Friedman considers himself partly utilitarian: "Would he than support slavery, if it hypothetically turned out to be the more efficient system?".

I understand that your are not a fan of that kind of Utilitarianism.

And then you use the term utilitarian in a second manner: whenever you advocate a certain solution to a conflict based on the criterion: how can the maximum pay-out for both parties be achieved? E.g. in Answers: THE ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF LAW (Part IV):
"The next step is to ask what legal rule will result in only
efficient changes—changes that produce a net economic benefit."

I argue now, this sort of reasoning is *not* utilitarian in the first sense of the word. Maybe better call it something else.

If you insist, one could call that reasoning "micro-utilitarian". I understand it as putting a suggestion out there on the market place of ideas. You say: if we can agree on this rule, we are all better off!
See how different that is to a utilitarian (like e.g. Sam Harris) who proclaims that it's a moral evil to disobey the rules derived from his utilitarian analysis.
Words like right, wrong, and evil come from these big ethical theories. You don't use them in the Machinery. And my impression is, these words are ill-defined and misleading. So why open up this whole utilitarian thing?

I think ethical theories in both categories, consequentialist and deontological, are prone to failure (and you actually show that). Your analysis offers a great alternative, something like the emergence of rules and laws based on individual self-interest not limited to a small scale.