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How Does Libertarianism Deal with the Problem of Pollution?

Matt Zwolinski joins us to talk about libertarianism and pollution. What does it mean for libertarians to treat pollution as a violation of property rights?

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Matt Zwolinski joins us this week to talk about his recent paper, “Libertarianism and Pollution,” available on the Social Science Research Network. In it, he examines how various libertarian philosophers and economists, including Nozick, Rothbard, Ronald Coase, and Eric Mack have dealt with the problem of pollution.

In a system of strictly enforced rights to private property, how should one account for pollution? Should it be allowed at all? And in either case, how can the term “pollution” be defined?

Show Notes and Further Reading

Matt Zwolinski, “Libertarianism and Pollution” (SSRN paper)

Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (book)

Murray Rothbard, “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution” (Cato Journal article)

Michael Huemer, The Problem of Political Authority (book)

Ronald Coase, “The Problem of Social Cost” (Journal of Law and Economics article)

Eric Mack, “Locke on Property” (Liberty Matters essay)