HUMAN NATURE AND
A popular misconception holds that libertarians believe everyone is selfish all the time. According to this misconception, libertarians believe altruism is an illusion. Whenever a person seems to act for the sake of others, she in fact only intends her own good.
However, few libertarians endorse this view of human nature. Libertarians in general have no unusual views about human motivation. They are happy to defer to psychologists on this issue. Psychology tells us most people are predominantly selfish, but they also have altruistic motives, as well as motives that are neither selfish nor altruistic.
If this is a misconception, why is it so widespread?
First, libertarians often argue from economic theory. Economists often model human behavior as if people were always selfish. Economists know that people have a mix of motives. However, economic models that pretend everyone is selfish have strong predictive power. Because libertarians often use economic reasoning when defending their philosophy, they may appear to endorse the view that everyone is always selfish.