Soho Forum Debate: Gene Epstein vs. David Friedman on the Nonaggression Principle

Economists Gene Epstein and David Friedman debated how best to persuade people to become libertarians at the Porcupine Freedom Festival.


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On June 23, at the Porcupine Freedom Festival ("PorcFest") in Lancaster, New Hampshire, economists David Friedman and Gene Epstein debated the resolution: "The right way to persuade people of libertarianism is by showing them that its outcomes are superior by their standards, without any resort to the flawed nonaggression principle."

Taking the affirmative, Friedman reviewed key arguments set forth in his 1973 book, The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism. He sees the nonaggression principle, or NAP, as incoherent and unnecessary for convincing nonlibertarians to accept libertarian solutions to societal problems.

Taking the negative, Epstein argued that what he prefers to call the zero-aggression principle, or ZAP, often plays an essential role in defending the libertarian case for reform, pointing to the case for abolishing drug laws and tariffs.

The debate was moderated by PorcFest organizer Dennis Pratt.