Murray Rothbard adopted a natural rights ethics to justify his system of anarcho-capitalism. I have already written a post here showing the logical foundations of his ethical system are incoherent and unconvincing.
John Maynard Keynes once wrote of Hayek’s bookPrices and Production:
“The book, as it stands, seems to me to be one of the most frightful muddles I have ever read, with scarcely a sound proposition in it beginning with page 45 … It is an extraordinary example of how, starting with a mistake, a remorseless logician can end up in Bedlam.” (Keynes 1931: 394).Read it at Social Democracy for the 21st Century
With the requisite changes, one can say that same thing about Rothbard’s ethical theory.
When judged by the standards of most other ethical theories (whose starting propositions and arguments are at least not so obviously false as natural rights), the logic of Rothbard’s theory takes him to conclusions that can only be described as moral insanity.
The Horror of Rothbardian Natural Rights
by Lord Keynes
OK, Rothbard can be excused for bad philosophy since he was an trained economist rather than a trained philosopher. On the other hand,philosophers find it rather queer when those without formal training in the subject presume themselves experts capable of jumping to the head of the line without even taking the trouble to understand previously published thought or enter the debate that has been ongoing for millennia now.
But where he left me was in arguing on the economic merits of privatizing the oceans. I may not be an economist by training, but really.
Liberty is a basic principle of ethics since the modern era. Fundamental to it is the view that human beings not only have no natural right of ownership over human beings, but also that ownership of human beings is fundamentally immoral. This is a core principle of liberalism of which libertarianism aka anarchism is an extreme example. In this view, husbands do not own their wives and children as chattel, as previously in human history under various systems of thought, and the concept of "self-ownership" is meaningless nonsense in today's worldview.
The Libertarianism of the right does not begin with liberty but rather ownership. According to this view, ownership and property rights are natural and fundamental, while liberty and human rights are incidental. As a result, anarcho-capitalism is a contradictory oxymoron. It is a worldview that is at odds with the evolution of Western thought and the development of civilization.