Tom G. Palmer

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Born 1956

Professions: Director, Educator, Vice President

Nationality: American

Group personification obscures, rather than illuminates, important political questions.

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Libertarians recognize the inevitable pluralism of the modern world and for that reason assert that individual liberty is at least part of the common good.

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It is obvious that different individuals require different things to live good, healthy, and virtuous lives.

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To repeat, communitarians maintain that we are constituted as persons by our particular obligations, and therefore those obligations cannot be a matter of choice.

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Equality of rights means that some people cannot simply impose obligations on others, for the moral agency and rights of those others would then be violated.

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Libertarians typically argue that particular obligations, at least under normal circumstances, must be created by consent; they cannot be unilaterally imposed by others.

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Obligations may be universal or particular.

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Libertarians argue that no normal adult has the right to impose choices on other normal adults, except in abnormal circumstances, such as when one person finds another unconscious and administers medical assistance or calls an ambulance.

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Guardians are necessary for children and abnormal adults, because they cannot make responsible choices for themselves.

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Libertarians recognize the difference between adults and children, as well as differences between normal adults and adults who are insane or mentally hindered or retarded.

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What libertarians assert is simply that differences among normal adults do not imply different fundamental rights.

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Obviously, all of us have been influenced by those around us.

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It is precisely because neither individuals nor small groups can be fully self-sufficient that cooperation is necessary to human survival and flourishing.

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Abstraction is a mental process we use when trying to discern what is essential or relevant to a problem; it does not require a belief in abstract entities.

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Most Europeans have no idea how wild life can be in north America.

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The government has become a mechanism for distributing largess, and your census form is your ticket.

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The first census in 1790 asked just six questions: the name of the head of the household, the number of free white males older than 16, the number of free white males younger than 16, the number of free white females, the number of other free persons, and the number of slaves.

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The reason the government sells the census as your ticket to getting goodies - rather than as your civic duty - is that distributing goodies is now all the government does.

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If an individual is born with the obligation to obey, who is born with the right to command?

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But there is no obvious reason for holding that some normal adults are entitled to make choices for other normal adults, as paternalists of both left and right believe.

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