A Mistaken Idea-David Gordon

“Many of my readers, I imagine, are in this position. You have read Murray Rothbard’s The Ethics of Liberty. Or maybe some other book by Rothbard, or Ludwig von Mises’s Liberalism. Or maybe you have encountered the “argumentation ethics” of Hans-Hermann Hoppe. You find what you read convincing, and you would say that you know that the free market views that these thinkers defend is correct.

Should the following line of argument change your beliefs? The thinkers mentioned in the previous paragraph are very intelligent and knowledgeable. But there are also very well-informed and knowledgeable scholars who favor diametrically opposed views…

I want to clarify the question I am asking. It isn’t this question: Should you look at the arguments that these scholars give against the views that you hold, or in favor of their contrary views? I think it would be a good idea for you to do so. As John Stuart Mill famously argued in On Liberty, knowing the objections to your position is a good way to understand better what you believe and the grounds for doing so. Even if the objections are wrong, Mill said, people who ignore these objectionslose…the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error.’

An objection to the conciliationist position has probably occurred to many of you. At one time, I thought it was a strong reason to reject the position, but now I’ve changed my mind. The objection is that conciliationism is itself a disputed view…”