Passionate about liberty and want a chance to win $4,000? Check out our video contest!
columns

Feb 6, 2012

Aristotle and Libertarianism

Most libertarians fall into either the consequentialist or deontologist camp. That is, they believe libertarianism is best justified by showing how it produces superior consequences to alternatives or by showing how it comports with certain moral rules such as self-ownership. A handful more take a contractarian approach, seeing libertarianism as what you’d get if everyone rationally debated and came to unanimous agreement on a set of rules to govern society.

But that list—consequentialism, deontology, and contractarianism—leaves out the moral theory of history’s most influential philosopher, Aristotle. While far from a libertarian himself, Aristotle’s notion of eudimonia—and its modern offspring, virtue ethics—offers an intriguing fourth option.

In the new short video we posted today, the philosopher Douglass Rasmussen discusses what libertarians can learn from Plato’s famous student.