Libertarians are individualists. But since individualist has many senses, that statement isn't terribly informative. Does it mean that libertarians are social nonconformists on principle? Not at all, writes Sheldon Richman. Some few libertarians may aspire to be, but most would see that as undesirable because it would obstruct their most important objectives. Virtually all libertarians observe the common customs of their societies, just as they conform to language conventions if for no other reason than they wish to be understood. Libertarians are individualists in other respects, however, Richman continues. They are methodological individualists, which means that when they think about social and economic processes, they begin with the fact that only individuals act.
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