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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12534/the-skeptic-as-absolutist-michel-de-montaigne/

The Skeptic as Absolutist: Michel de Montaigne

April 22, 2010 by

It is a favorite conceit of modern, 20th-century liberals that skepticism, the attitude that nothing can really be known as the truth, is the best groundwork for individual liberty. FULL ARTICLE by Murray N. Rothbard

{ 4 comments }

Soft Dick Libertarian April 22, 2010 at 9:33 am

Libertarians should fight for the freedom of their souls. Nature, with it’s sexual pulse, keeps us slaves. Therefore it’s the job of libertarians to show mother nature who’s boss by keeping their dicks soft and fight as hard as they can to not let it become hard. Hard dick = soft will, soft dick = hard will.

John April 22, 2010 at 10:23 am

This is completely off topic but I have to get this of my chest. I have been trying to get this article to play as an audio file on the media page but without any success. Both on Firefox and Google Chrome none of the audio files on the Mises media page will not load or play at this very moment.

When I was successful in the past in starting the playback, the same audio file started again within six minutes. I was then listening to the same lecture twice and at the same time! But of course in different time frames. Also a lot of the lectures are cut of before the ending.

This has been reported several times but not fixed. It has been like this for over two months.I have repeatedly reported this in the comment section of the audio page and none of my comments were placed or heeded. The Mises media page is at this moment seriously borked! And it seems like nobody is taking any action. What is going on?

Mark Humphrey April 25, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I appreciate Murray Rothbard’s interesting description of the absolutist thoughts of 16th century skeptic de Montaigne. Skepticism about reason is logically congruent with authoritarianism, because only individuals think. If their ideas are random and worthless, then free will is a myth–an exercise in meaningless choice. If free will is meaningless, then individual choice has no moral value. All that is left to the consistent skeptic is faith and mysticism, group thinking and collectivism.

This observation raises an important question: If moral principles that underlie individual rights can be established through the proper exercise of reason, then is not the careful development and proof of such principles essential to libertarianism? Ayn Rand and her intellectual followers have developed a logically coherent philosophical system that explains the natural source and human purpose of moral values, the elevation of reason as the cardinal moral virtue, and from all this, proof of the moral sovereignty of private lives.

Austro-libertarians claim an axiomatic defense of individual rights that supposedly requires no ground work in morality. In this view, rights exist as a means of arbitrating disputes and rationing property. This raises a reasonable question: If rights exist, but personal moral values are optional and therefore unimportant, then why should one choose to observe and respect rights? The Rothbardian defense of rights can offer no answer, because it is agnostic about the nature of moral values.

I suggest that the Mises Institute reconsider its knee-jerk hostility to the ideas of Rand. Try to refute her ideas on their own merits, without rancor and mud slinging; while attempting to overturn her ideas with a better moral philosophy.

I doubt this can be done. I don’t want to be snide, but it would astonish me if the Ludvig von Mises Institute attempted to do so.

William April 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I believe that Rothbard is attacking a strawman, the name of which is “absolute skepticism” where one can “know” nothing, where knowledge is used in its absolutist sense.

A practical skepticism is a wholly different beast and an invitation to question authority. For example, the “skeptics” in the AWG debate have offered rational counter arguments. The “skeptics” of statism have offered alternate models (think Austrian School).

A skepticism that functions well in the realm of reality has been offered by Taleb in “The Black Swan.”

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