Mack the Knife

In my latest YouTube video, I chat with philosopher Eric Mack about walking out on Ayn Rand, clashing with Nazi Sikhs in Seneca Falls, libertarian rights theory, Kantian vs. Aristotelean approaches to fixing Randian ethics, Nozickian polymathy, the unselfishness of Samuel Johnson, the ethics of COVID lockdowns, physical distancing in Durango, the CIA as an argument against anarchism, shoving someone in front of a bus as a form of restitution, and the edibility of matter.

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6 Responses to Mack the Knife

  1. David Friedman September 6, 2020 at 1:33 am #

    Interesting interview.

    My version of the criticism of the Objectivist position being discussed, in extensive arguments on humanities.philosophy.objectivism (Usenet), was what I called the prudent predator problem. Why shouldn’t someone violate rights if he does so prudently, only steals on those occasions, if they occur, when he is virtually certain of not being caught.

    Eric’s accent isn’t Eastern European Jewish, it’s New York, probably Queens. Of course, that accent might ultimately come from Ashkenazi immigrants.

    National defense is a collective action problem. Police protection is not — it can be treated as a private good, although one with some economies of scale.

    Re Nozick. I gave a talk describing and criticizing his argument against anarchy at a libertarian event, I think an LP convention in NY, with Nozick in the audience. He did not offer a rebuttal to my argument but instead offered the “if it works, why don’t we observe it” argument, which I think is the strongest argument for his position.

    The argument that government services are the payment for rights violation is Richard Epstein’s argument in _Takings_.

    And combining Nozick and Epstein, Nozick’s niece, who was a student at U of C Law School, told me that Nozick said that Epstein was the only person he knew who spoke in paragraphs.

    • Roderick September 6, 2020 at 9:20 am #

      “He did not offer a rebuttal to my argument but instead offered the ‘if it works, why don’t we observe it’ argument, which I think is the strongest argument for his position.”

      That would seem to be as good (or bad) an argument against the minimal state as against anarchy.

      • David Friedman September 7, 2020 at 12:45 am #

        That’s Rothbard’s old argument. Anarchy might not work. Limited government has been tried.

        If accept that as a conclusive argument against both, the conclusion is that something like 19th century England or the U.S., far from minimal but a much smaller state than modern ones, is the best we can do.

  2. Confabulate September 6, 2020 at 6:52 am #

    I was going to go to Tulane, but then Eric Mack left. I was very saddened.

  3. drunk_foxx September 10, 2020 at 7:06 pm #

    Thanks for an interesting talk. By the end of the interview, you claimed to be persona non grata at the Mises Institute – could you elaborate on the details? I know you haven’t been posting anything via LVMI for several years now, but what are the reasons? Some split over left vs right libertarianism? Interested to learn the story behind that.


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