Argumentation Ethics: An Anthology


Published on March 28th, 2016.


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Transcribed by Kyle Rearden | Formatted/Edited by Shane Radliff

Foreword by Shane Radliff [social title=”” subtitle=”” link=”” icon=”fa-facebook”]

Hans-Herman Hoppe’s argumentation ethics has been an extremely divisive subject within the libertarian community, as pointed out by Dr. Walter Block and Kyle Rearden. Due to the implications argumentation ethics could have on libertarianism in general, I think the 26 years of discourse is extremely important, and is something that should be continued by philosophers and economists alike. That said, it has been an issue mostly forgotten, from what I can tell, until it was brought to my attention.

For those who may not be familiar with argumentation ethics, I think a short explanation is in order, to prepare you for the intellectual endeavor you are about to partake in. First off, any individuals who argue have already foresworn the use, or threat of initiatory force (that is, coercion). Secondly, argumentation ethics affirms self-ownership, which does not fall prey to being a performative contradiction. In short, any individual who makes arguments against private property must first exercise the implicit ownership of their own bodies (i.e. the use of their mouth, brain, vocal cords, etc.), which, if done, would result in a performative contradiction. Further examples of this were provided by Rearden:

“Examples of performative contradictions are all too easy to come by. Also known by some as ‘self-detonating statements,’ any speaker who says, ‘I am dead,’ or ‘Language is meaningless,’ is completely full of shit, and this is easily provable, simply because the very act of making the statement necessarily involves a contradiction. Obviously, language inherently carries meaning, and dead men don’t speak.”

Since my discovery of argumentation ethics, and Rearden’s work on gathering and reposting all of the literature, I decided to put all of it in one place, to hopefully encourage more discussion on the subject. This anthology includes Hoppe’s initial thesis, critiques, rebuttals, and praises from both sides of the fence. Related ideas include Stephen Kinsella’s concept of dialogical estoppel, argumentation ethics as a communication theory by Christopher Zimny, and much more. The full list of authors involved in the discussion are: Hoppe, Murray Rothbard, Kinsella, Robert Murphy, Gene Callahan, Frank van Dun, Marian Eabrasu, and Zimny.

It’s worth noting that any spelling and grammatical errors found in the original source documents have been left to uphold the integrity of the archive. That said, any errors found outside of that realm are solely the responsibility of the transcriber and the editor. Lastly, footnotes have been removed for ease of reading.

I hope libertarians and anarchists of various stripes and flavors find this anthology valuable, and deeply ponder Hoppe’s thesis and the other arguments found herein. Hoppe has provided us with a great opportunity in the fields of economic and philosophical exploration, specifically as to whether or not the propertarian ethic can be argumentatively justified in a praxeological manner (that is, a priori). The only question remaining is—will you seize it?

Shane Radliff

Bloomington, Illinois

March 2016

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