Argumentation ethics

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Argumentation ethics is a libertarian political theory developed in 1988 by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, a Professor Emeritus with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas College of Business and Ludwig von Mises Institute Senior Fellow.[1] Hoppe says his theory proves that arguing for any political position other than libertarian anarchism is logically inconsistent. He describes his argument as a strictly logical, value-free consequence of sound deductive reasoning. Responses have come mainly from Hoppe's friends and colleagues at the Mises Institute, among whom the argument's reception has been mixed.[2]

Hoppe states that because both parties in a debate propound propositions in the course of argumentation, and because argumentation presupposes various norms including non-violence, the act of propounding a proposition that negates the presupposed propositions of argumentation is a logical contradiction between one's actions and one's words (this is called a performative contradiction). Specifically, to argue that violence should be used to resolve conflicts (instead of argumentation) is a performative contradiction.[3] Thus, Hoppe argues that arguing against libertarian anarchism and the non-aggression principle is logically incoherent.

Responses from colleagues[edit]

Various responses to Hoppe's argument came from Hoppe's colleagues at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.[2] Some of them accepted his argument, among them attorney Kinsella[4] and economists Walter Block and Murray Rothbard,[5] who called it "a dazzling breakthrough for political philosophy in general and for libertarianism in particular," adding "he has managed to transcend the famous is/ought, fact/value dichotomy that has plagued philosophy since the days of the Scholastics..."[5]

Mises Institute economists Bob Murphy and Gene Callahan rejected Hoppe's argument.[6] The late Austrian Economist David Osterfeld, an adjunct scholar at the Mises Institute, also rejected Hoppe's argument in an essay to which Hoppe subsequently responded.[7]

Ludwig Von Mises Institute Senior Fellow and Auburn University philosopher Roderick Long reconstructed the argument in deductively valid form, specifying four premises on whose truth the argument's soundness depends. Long goes on to argue that each premise is either uncertain, doubtful, or clearly false. He summarizes his views by stating:

I don’t think there’s any reason to reject out of hand the kind of argument that Hoppe tries to give; on the contrary, the idea that there might be some deep connection between libertarian rights and the requirements of rational discourse is one I find attractive and eminently plausible. [...] But I am not convinced that the specific argument Hoppe gives us is successful.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hoppe, Hans-Hermann; Murray N. Rothbard; David Friedman; Leland Yeager; David Gordon; Douglas Rasmussen (November 1988). "Liberty Symposium" (PDF). Liberty 2. 
  2. ^ a b Kinsella, Stephan (March 13, 2009). "Revisiting Argumentation Ethics". Mises Economics Blog. Ludwig von Mises Institute. [A] number of thinkers weighed in, including Rothbard, ... Conway, ... D. Friedman, ... Machan, ... Lomasky, ... Yeager, ...Rasmussen, and others.... 
  3. ^ Hoppe, Hans-Hermann (September 1988). "The Ultimate Justification of Private Property" (PDF). Liberty 1: 20. 
  4. ^ Kinsella, Stephan (19 September 2002). "Defending Argumentation Ethics: Reply to Murphy & Callahan". Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Rothbard, Murray N. (November 1988). "Beyond Is and Ought". Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Murphy, Robert P.; Callahan, Gene (Spring 2006). "Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Argumentation Ethics: A Critique" (PDF). Journal of Libertarian Studies 20 (2): 53–6. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Comment on Hoppe / Comment on Osterfeld" (PDF). Austrian Economics Newsletter. 1988. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  8. ^ Long, Roderick T.. "The Hopperiori Argument". 

Further reading[edit]

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