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Semiformalishmaybe

Wedge against the Statue

I recently have found and have been enjoying a fantastic argumentative wedge against libertarians:


Landlord-tenant law.

This is a wedge in that people who are Libertarians out of reasons of pure philosophy will almost universally oppose it; their ideal of the modern state is that it establishes jurisdiction (not really jurisprudence) and security and does little else. The other strands of Libertarianism are much more prone to have (or easily be nudged towards) a very friendly view of the substantial body of law regulating contracts and performance between landlords and tenants. This also nicely divides old and new libertarians; the college-CS-or-Engineering-kids who just want a clean my-first-philosophy-with-right-answers still are usually renting, and it's possible to make them hesitate in argument and then push forward. Older folks who live in owned property and have considerable accumulated privilege often lack this.

It's a pretty good way to make someone walk back the "government can't do anything right" line, and if they're educated enough to note that precedent for a lot of this came from British common-law, they may feel (kind-of justifiably) proud for being able to take the conversation there but you're suddenly in a fantastic climate to talk about how common law works, which is a great place to land strong blows on their philosophy.

Of course, you might find out you're arguing with a "moderate" Libertarian, and that's ok too; if you are you can have a reasonable discussion rather than planning tight tactics like chess openers and closers.

Having once been a hardline Libertarian myself, I am most keen on unravelling that in others; it is difficult for most people to pull even cheap philosophical reasoning apart, and I don't want that philosophy to damage western civilisation any more than it already has.
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