thenoobyorker replied to your quote: Hence the nineteenth-century laissez-faire…
rothbard can suck dicks
It’s astounding how most of this nonsense is mere assertion.
“The most viable method of elaborating the natural-rights statement of the libertarian position is to divide it into parts, and to begin with the basic axiom of the “right to self-ownership.” The right to self-ownership asserts the absolute right of Property and Exchange each man, by virtue of his (or her) being a human being, to “own” his or her own body; that is, to control that body free of coercive interference. Since each individual must think, learn, value, and choose his or her ends and means in order to survive and flourish, the right to self-ownership gives man the right to perform these vital activities without being hampered and restricted by coercive molestation.”
HUMANS HAVE THE RIGHT TO SELF-OWNERSHIP QUA HUMANS. Is this just, like, a joke? What is self-ownership anway? I don’t own my body. A life force merely inhabits my body. And uh, sure, I’d prefer not to be raped or killed but how does this entail OWNERSHIP. What the fuck how is this taken seriously.
The right to self-ownership here is itself supposed to be assertion. That’s what he means by “basic axiom.” It’s his starting point. He’s not trying to logically demonstrate that starting point to you. He is deriving implications from it, deriving the implications of an “ought,” not deriving an “ought” from something else. (though Habermasian philosopher Hans Hoppe has what’s intended to be a demonstration of self-ownership as “axiomatic” by way of argumentation ethics, if you care about argumentation ethics, which I don’t particularly).
See the natural rights definition and criticisms of self-ownership in the IEP entry on libertarianism:
Ownership is being used in the normal sense of “right to control.” Self-ownership terminology comes from natural rights arguments used by abolitionists in opposition to “ownership” claims made on slaves: People own themselves and can’t be owned by other people or justly appropriated as someone else’s property. As one libertarian put it, “the rightness of libertarianism follows from the intuitive wrongness of slavery.” (and practically speaking, you do “own” your “body” in a real legal sense… like you can sell or keep or dispose of your hair, finger, like anything else you “own”… and we always refer to “my body” “my arm” etc.). And the “natural” rights comes from abolitionist and classical liberals and American founder-types.
You can think of “self-ownership” as a metaphor for self-determination or whatever you want to call “the right to control” if you don’t like the abolitionist terminology.
That said, I was not personally convinced by natural rights arguments for libertarianism and I don’t recommend Rothbard as an ethicist if natural rights doesn’t appeal to you. Rothbard was a profoundly important libertarian activist in academia and politics, but not an intellectual figurehead in ethics. And I deliberately avoid trying to logically demonstrate or argue ethics. If people want more philosophically sophisticated arguments I recommend Anthony de Jasay, Jan Lester, and economists like David Friedman and Vernon Smith.