Most libertarians are not fans of Ayn Rand, contrary to one definition on this site, although many admire her writings.

A libertarian is someone who believes in the primacy of individual rights. A Libertarian (with capital L) is someone who is a member of the U.S. Libertarian party, founded in 1972.

Libertarians (both big and small L) are people who argue that human beings are ends-in-themselves, that they have rights (either natural, consequential, or existential) and who argue that these rights precede government. Because rights precede government, libertarians argue that there are things that government may not do. As a consequence, libertarians describe a very small sphere for government, are advocates of free markets, and are defenders of individual liberty. Libertarians also are advocates of peace (and have been, throughout history, at the forefront of peace movements) and nonintervention.

Some libertarians can best be described as anarchists - that is they think that the best government is no government.

In philosophy, a libertarian is one who holds the incompatibilist philosophy that states that reality is indeterministic, a free action is one which is not determined, and that humans have free will (that is, that there are free human actions). In a way, this means that a free action is simply a random event. The term originated in the 1600s or 1700s.

In general usage, free will usually means is that humans choices are neither random nor determined. This is basically what libertarianism says, but the fact that all free actions are actually random is sometimes put as a stipulation of libertarianism while most people when they say free will will vehemently deny that to be the case. Unfortunately, this is a logical necessity whether we like it or not, so libertarianism is essentially the philosophy held by most people.

cf. determinism, compatibilism

This writeup is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

(This writing has been downvoted a couple times just recently. I'm pretty sure it's all correct, but perhaps I'm mistaken? Maybe the term came about in 12BC? Maybe people object to my using the term 'random'? Maybe people just hate metaphysics, in which case I don't really care. But if it's something I could improve about this writeup, I'd like to know. Thanks.)

Advocates of limited government are not anti-government per se, as some people would charge. Rather, they are hostile to concentrations of coercive power and to the arbitrary use of power against right. With a deep appreciation for the lessons of history, and the dangers of unconstrained government, they are for constitutionally limited government, with the delegated authority and means to protect our rights, but not so powerful as to destroy or negate them.

Libertarians agree that freewill and determinism are incompatible, but believe that determinism is false and we have freewill. In other words: we have free will, therefore determinism must be false. (See the works from Holbach on this aspect - althuig I do mostly not agree with him, he has some excellent points.)

Lib`er*ta"ri*an (?), a. [See Liberty.]

Pertaining to liberty, or to the doctrine of free will, as opposed to the doctrine of necessity.


© Webster 1913.

Lib`er*ta"ri*an, n.

One who holds to the doctrine of free will.


© Webster 1913.

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