Episode 58 – The difference between justified violence and preferable violence

preferable violence

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The Non-Aggression Principle is one of the core ideas to libertarianism, but it is unfortunately not always correctly applied even by otherwise strong libertarians.  The Non-Aggression Principle states that it is wrong to commit or threaten violence against peaceful individuals.  So if someone is not treating you peacefully, i.e. violating the Non-Aggression Principle, then your response to his actions would not be bound by the Non-Aggression Principle.  In other words, you would be justified in committing some amount of violence against him.  But this raises a question: is justified violence always preferable?

A lot of libertarians seem to relish in the opportunity to hand out violence and seek revenge within the framework of the Non-Aggression Principle.  Is that really the best approach?  Might there be situations where violence is justified where taking a non-violent approach is better in the long run?  Do we start to enter murky moral waters if we engage in violence knowing that it is likely to escalate the situation to something more serious?  Would we achieve a more productive and more peaceful society if we rejected solving problems with violence even when there is justification to do so?

These are important questions to discuss and explore since following the Non-Aggression Principle is not enough on its own to achieve a successful libertarian society.  Let’s not ruin our momentum with presenting ideas that may be technically correct with a wrongheaded approach.

Related episode
Episode 45 – Exploring the Non-Aggression Principle in more depth

Robert Murphy – Prisons in a free society?
Resist Not Evil by Clarence Darrow (free pdf version from mises.org)

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