Limits of the Non-Aggression Principle

Sandy Ikeda writes about "Limits of the Non-Aggression Principle". I think his discussion is informative, but it fails to acknowledge (1) that there are different theories of property rights that are outside the libertarian tradition and (2) the logical extension of the non aggression principle to freedom of contract and freedom from contract.

There at least five distinct theories of property rights: classical liberal, utilitarian, pragmatist, legal positivist, and modern libertarian. The bundle of sticks metaphor applies to the progressive movement, and this includes utilitarianism, pragmatism, and legal positivism. Thus, if we are talking about the disagreement about the "property rights regime" we are stepping outside of the libertarian theory of rights. Then, by definition, the side that comes outside the libertarian theory of rights will claim that the non aggression principle is not enough.

If we decide to stay within the libertarian theory of rights, then we can extend the non aggression principle to derive the concepts of freedom of contract and freedom from contract, as elaborated by Randy Barnett in his paper "The Function of Several Property and Freedom of Contract". Then, I don't se a reason why the non aggression principle, understood as freedom of ownership and freedom of and from contract, would not be sufficient to classify all human action in two separate categories (i.e., right and wrong). I have provided examples of this here and here. Also, some of the inadequacies of utilitarianism are shown here and here.


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