Non-Aggression Principle

What's the Best Argument for Libertarianism?

Dennis Pratt and Gene Epstein debate the efficacy of ethical and consequentialist arguments for libertarianism.


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Free State Project activist Dennis Pratt and Soho Forum Director Gene Epstein debate the resolution, "A better way to persuade more people of libertarianism is to convince them of the ethics stemming from self-ownership and the non-aggression principle, without relying primarily on consequentialist/utilitarian arguments."

Dennis Pratt, a libertarian writer and activist in New Hampshire, took the affirmative, arguing that the consequentialist arguments typical of libertarian economists are only narrowly effective, don't represent the core of libertarianism, and are too difficult for most people to quickly grasp. The philosophy of self-ownership, he said, has far more force in its ability to persuade the most people.

Soho Forum Director Gene Epstein disagreed. While he espouses the same philosophy as his opponent, he made the argument that the empirical facts related to the poor results of government interventions can get many people to rethink their anti-libertarian assumptions.

The debate occurred on June 20, 2024, at the Porcupine Freedom Festival in Lancaster, New Hampshire, and was moderated by Free State Project founder Jason Sorens.