A wonderful interview of a gentleman who is a great addition to the Mises Institute.
JD: Quasi-utilitarian arguments flourished in the economics mainstream, ceding the intellectual high ground in favor of arguments that free markets merely “worked” better.
[Rothbard] literally laid out the ethics of liberty, explaining the legal and political conclusions necessarily flowing from self-ownership, the natural rights tradition, and the principle of nonaggression. He made the clear case for property rights as the foundation of a free society, applying the same standards to government and private actors.
BM: Sadly, too many pseudo-libertarian institutions today swim in the world of utilitarian arguments. Rothbard made countless contributions to the advancement of Austrian economics, revisionist history, and libertarian thought. In my opinion, his most valuable contribution was in building an ethical foundation for liberty.
Utilitarian arguments build no foundation. Utilitarian arguments are for politicians (and those who want to curry favor with politicians) – and are subject to the same word and logic twisting that causes many of us to despise many of them.
People want to believe in something. “What works best” is go guideline; it is quicksand – and such a utilitarian approach delivers the battlefield to the enemy.
Thankfully, in Mr. Deist, the Mises Institute makes clear it will continue in its tradition of holding to the principled, ethical path.