Pillars of Libertarianism Part II: Non-Agression

Introduction

In part one of this series we discussed Natural Rights Philosophy and its prevelance today. In this article we will discuss the second pillar known as the Non-Agression Principle.

What is the Non-Agression Principle?

The Non-Agression Principle or the NAP is a principle which states that it is immoral to initiate force or coercion on another human being. This does not preclude self defense or retaliatory force. Non-Agression is not Non-Violence. Libertarians are not pacifists. The Non-Agression Principle could be broken down into two basic rules:

  1. Do no harm to others.
  2. Mind your own business.

If those two rules were followed society would be far more peaceful.

Where does the NAP come from?

Under Natural Rights Philosophy a person is justified in using force to defend their life, liberty, and property as well as the life, liberty, and property of others. Over time this developed into a philosophic principle of its own. It also has to do with the nature of natural rights. Natural rights only applies to you if you respect the rights of others. Failing to do so will see you stripped of your Natural Rights. Thus this is a corallary of Natural Rights. Additionally it has been favoured as a separate Principle of its own by people such as Ayn Rand and Murry Rothbard. Thus this Principle is a fundamental libertarian principle all by itself.

Relevance

The NAP has to do with ethics. It informs, more specifically speaking, political ethics but also deals with all ethics. The NAP has to do with how you treat others and how to form ethical public policy. If the world went by the NAP it would be a safer and more ethical place.

3 thoughts on “Pillars of Libertarianism Part II: Non-Agression

  1. Nice succinct, clear description of NAP. I tend to lean a bit more toward Voluntaryism, myself, but I certainly agree with much of libertarian and anarchist thought. Just curious (because I can’t deduce myself), how does adherence to NAP allow for violence (not being pacifist)?

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