Bleeding Heart Libertarians

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A sad little circle of academic libertarian propagandists who are attempting to face the principle that if you have more than one liberty, the liberties conflict. The pathetic thing about the BHL's is that libertarianism provides no way to decide those questions except ad-hoc attempts at philosophy. See the Jeffrey Friedman quote below for a characterization that applies to them. They are also fond of deleting contradictory views in the comments of their blog.


Bleeding Heart Bullshit [More...]
"... a clumsy, unoriginal treatise, far too convinced of its own edginess, that attempts to do for libertarianism what The Moosewood Cookbook did for spaghetti squash -- that is, turn something unpalatable into something righteous." This review of "Against Democracy" gets much harsher....
Capabilities and Libertarianism, Part I: Basics of Capabilities [More...]
A decent and simple overview of the Capability Approach. "The capabilities approach explores the needs and reasonable desires of each individual and demands these needs and desires be met for a society to be said to be flourishing."
Capabilities and Libertarianism, Part II: Capabilities for Bullet-Biting Libertarians [More...]
"[H]ow some common justificatory bases for libertarianism fail, and do so in ways readily grokked from a capabilitarian vantage." The NAP, property, Ayn Rand and spontaneous order take a beating.
Capabilities and Libertarianism, Part III: Capabilities for Neoclassical Liberals [More...]
"I know of no libertarian who works explicitly within a capabilities framework, but some libertarians hint at capabilitarian inclinations. For libertarianism to be justified in terms of the capabilities approach, libertarian principles would be affirmed and defended because they advance human capabilities. "
Capabilities and Libertarianism, Part IV: Libertarianism for Capabilitarians [More...]
A list of libertarian hobbyhorses he wants to try on Capabilitarians, as if they were not already aware of these ideas. Most are exaggerated by libertarians: misunderstood coercion, discredited Public Choice Theory, limits of democracy and Spontaneous Order.
Coercion vs. Freedom: BHL vs. BRG [More...]
John Holbo explains Bertram, Robins and Gourvitch’s post criticizing the Bleeding Heart Libertarians views on liberty and voluntary slavery. He then explains how Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok make the same errors. Follow the link to the original post.
Epistocracy (4 links)
A notion favored by many libertarians that popular democracy doesn't work so most people should be disenfranchised in favor of "experts". They don't say it, but that's what Communist parties are. They never have a good explanation of what experts are needed, how they will be chosen, and how they can be prevented from self-dealing.
Jason Brennan (9 links)
A weak philosophical propagandist who claims to argue from "commonsense moral principles". Is this really any better than Steven Colbert (or Nietzsche) going with his gut? Likes deleting other's comments in Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog.
Let It Bleed: Libertarianism and the Workplace [More...]
"What makes the private sector, especially the workplace, such an attractive instrument of repression is precisely that it can administer punishments without being subject to the constraints of the Bill of Rights. It is an archipelago of private governments, in which employers are free to do precisely what the state is forbidden to do: punish without process. "
Listen Libertarians! Part 1 [More...]
Part I of David Ellerman's review of John Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness. The fundamental consent-versus-coercion misframing.
Listen Libertarians! Part 2 [More...]
Part 2 of David Ellerman's review of John Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness. The misframing of property theory.
Listen Libertarians! Part 3 [More...]
Part 3 of David Ellerman's review of John Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness. The misframing about "productive property".
Listen Libertarians! Part 4 [More...]
Part 4 of David Ellerman's review of John Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness. Liberalism’s faux "inalienable rights" theory.
Listen Libertarians! Part 5 [More...]
Part 5 of David Ellerman's review of John Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness. The property invisible hand mechanism.
Nozick on Philosophy [More...]
Turns out to be very descriptive of his own work's falings, that of Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and other libertarians. More comfortable than a Procrustean bed, but just as awful.
The Capabilities Approach and Libertarianism [More...]
Paul Crider finds the ideas of "life, liberty, and property" to be too limited. "What we really want is a concept of flourishing. We want to describe a society not only where nobody’s rights are violated, but where everyone -- even the least of those among us -- is living well."
Uber Menschen [More...]
"This whole intellectual effort, of trying magically to reconcile bedrock libertarianism with an ersatz version of democratic theory, so that one would arrive at a population that would, through sheer force of combined erudition and intellect, arrive at the correct answer, reminds me of Peter Thiel’s notorious complaint that giving women the vote was a major mistake, since they didn’t have the right libertarian attitudes."
Why I’m Not a Bleeding-Heart Libertarian [More...]
'What “libertarian” tends to mean to most people, including most people who self-identify as libertarian, is flatly at odds with some of what I believe. So I guess I’m just a liberal; the bleeding heart goes without saying.'


[...] Bleeding Heart Libertarians (BHL) -- a group of free-market apologists who have built a brand out of applying lipstick to the libertarian pig.
Jonah Walters, "Bleeding Heart Bullshit"
In editing a journal that has received manuscripts from virtually every libertarian scholar, famous and unknown alike, I have long been struck by the consistent juxtaposition of what another observer delicately calls the “intermingling of positive statements and normative pleadings”: the coincidence of libertarian philosophical sentiments with weak empirical research, leaps of logic, and contempt for nonlibertarian points of view (of which the authors usually appear ignorant). The polemical tone and deficient evidence, however, and the tarnishing of often-good ideas by doctrinaire rhetoric and low scholarly standards, are only the least of it. The worst thing is not the waste of effort that goes into producing propaganda barely veiled by the robes of scholarship. The greater tragedy is what libertarians could produce, but do not.
Jeffrey Friedman, "What's Wrong With Libertarianism"
Here are some not-standardly-libertarian things I believe: Non-coercion fails to capture all, maybe even most, of what it means to be free. Taxation is often necessary and legitimate. The modern nation-state has been, on the whole, good for humanity. (See Steven Pinker’s new book.) Democracy is about as good as it gets. The institutions of modern capitalism are contingent arrangements that cannot be justified by an appeal to the value of liberty construed as non-interference. The specification of the legal rights that structure real-world markets have profound distributive consequences, and those are far from irrelevant to the justification of those rights. I could go on.
Will Wikinson, "Why I’m Not a Bleeding-Heart Libertarian"