Consequentialist libertarianism, also known as consequentialist liberalism or libertarian consequentialism,[1] is a libertarian political philosophy and position that is supportive of a free market and strong private property rights only on the grounds that they bring about favorable consequences such as prosperity or efficiency.[2]


What consequentialist libertarians advocate is derived through cost–benefit calculation, taking a broad account of consequences.[3] It is contrasted with deontological libertarianism which considers the initiation of force and fraud to be immoral, regardless of consequences.[4][5] Unlike deontological libertarians, consequentialist libertarians do not necessarily see all cases of initiation of force as immoral and do not see it as inherently immoral (i.e., they do not express a belief in natural rights). Rather, their position is that political and economic liberty lead to the best consequences in the form of happiness and prosperity and for that reason alone it should be supported. Some libertarians may have a conception of libertarianism that is a hybrid of consequentialism and deontology.[2]

Unlike deontological libertarians, consequentialist libertarians advocate actions they believe bring about favorable consequences regardless of whether these constitute initiation of force.[6][7] Unlike deontological libertarians, some consequentialists libertarians support eminent domain in addition to support for involuntary taxes.[8] Particular views vary among consequentialist libertarians, with political theorist David D. Friedman supporting a consequentialist form of anarcho-capitalism where the content of law is bought and sold rather than there being an established legal code forbidding initiation of force.[9]

Notable consequentialist libertarians

See also


  1. ^ Yeager, Leland B. (2001). Ethics As Social Science: The Moral Philosophy of Social Cooperation. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 283
  2. ^ a b Wolff, Jonathan. "Libertarianism, Utility, and Economic Competition" (PDF). Virginia Law Review. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-12. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Miron, Jeffrey A. (2010). Libertarianism: From A to Z. Basic Books. p. 39.
  4. ^ Bradford, R. W. (2008). "The Two Libertarianisms". Liberty. Liberty Foundation.
  5. ^ Zwolinski, Matt. "Libertarianism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  6. ^ Murray, Charles; Friedman, David D.; Boaz, David; Bradford, R. W. (January 2005). "What's Right vs. What Works". Liberty. 19 (1): 31.
  7. ^ Barnett, Randy E. "The Moral Foundations of Modern Libertarianism". In Berkowitz, Peter, ed. (2004). Varieties of Conservatism in America. Hoover Press.
  8. ^ Epstein, Richard; Barnett, Randy; Friedman, David D.; Pinkerton, James P. (March 2004). "Coercion vs. Consent". Reason.
  9. ^ Friedman, David (1973). The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism. Harper & Row. pp. 127–128.
  10. ^ "Milton Friedman on Libertarianism (Part 1 of 4)". YouTube. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Younkins, Edward W. (6 July 2002). Mises' Utilitarianism as Social Cooperation.
  12. ^ Liggio, Leonard P. (Winter 1982). "Hayek's Constitution of Liberty: Ethical Basis of the Juridical Framework of Individual Liberty". Literature of Liberty. 5 (4).
  13. ^ Gray, John N. (1982). F. A. Hayek and the Rebirth of Classical Liberalism.
  14. ^ Ebenstein, Alan O. (2001). Friedrich Hayek: A Biography. p. 383.
  15. ^ Walker, Jesse (10 December 2005). "R.W. Bradford, RIP". Reason. Retrieved 9 December 2019.