THE BASICS OF
Libertarianism is a political philosophy. Libertarians believe respect for individual liberty is the central requirement of justice. They believe human relationships should be based on mutual consent. Libertarians advocate a free society of cooperation, tolerance, and mutual respect.
Libertarianism holds that we should each be permitted to choose how our lives will go, so long as we do not violate others’ rights. We do not have to get society’s permission to go about our lives. We are not required to answer to or justify ourselves to others. We may not be forced to serve strangers. We may not even be forced to serve ourselves —no one may force us to promote our own good. Libertarians believe each of us possesses an inviolability, founded on justice, that forbids others from sacrificing us for the sake of greater social stability, economic efficiency, or better culture. Over our own lives, each of us is sovereign. We are not to be treated like slaves, servants, or helpless children.
Libertarianism is not the most popular political philosophy in the United States. (See questions 12 and 94.) Yet, it derives from commonsense moral thinking. Most Americans agree, in the abstract, that we should be free to do as we please, provided