Liberty versus Libertarianism

GENE CALLAHAN
POLITICS, PHILOSOPHY & ECONOMICS 12.1 (2013): 48-67

Abstract: This article aims to persuade its reader that libertarianism, at least in several of its varieties, is a species of the genus that Michael Oakeshott referred to as ‘rationalism in politics’. The author hopes to demonstrate, employing the work of Oakeshott as well as Aristotle and Onora O’Neill, how many libertarian theorists, who generally have a sincere and admirable commitment to personal liberty, have been led astray by the rationalist promise that we might be able to approach deductive certainty concerning the ‘correctness’ of some political programme. The article argues that a concept such as Pettit’s freedom as non-domination is more robust and inclusive of all that we value about freedom than is the libertarian concept of freedom as non-interference.