The Paradox of Freedom: A Critical Examination of Libertarian Philosophies

January 17, 2024
Natalie Thorburn


Libertarianism is a political philosophy steeped in the ideas of individual & collective liberty, morality, autonomy, and equality. Individualism, emphasis on individual rights & freedom, spontaneous societal order, free markets, limited governance & the rule of law, peace, and the virtue of the labor class are some of the core principles of libertarian philosophy. In the eyes of a libertarian, every individual can do whatever they want as long as they are not harming others or infringing upon the rights & freedoms of others. They consider every person to be the master of their mind who follows a strict moral code and dreams of a government that has limited power, zero corruption, & in actuality, an extension of the society itself.

No wonder libertarian philosophies do not work in reality! The over-idealistic & unrealistic ideas of libertarianism are what the masses strive for but can never achieve. A criticism of the principles of libertarianism and its inherent flaws is the subject of this article from, a leading essay and assignment writing service in the USA.

Let’s dive in.

Free Statue of Liberty Stock Photo

The Paradox of Absolute Libertarianism

If you look into the ideas promoted by libertarianism, you will find that they all are so very simple & sensical. Things such as "Do not hurt others. Mind your business. Be virtuous," etc., are all based on moral premises and intuition shared by one & all. The prevailing justice is another central principle in libertarianism, which, together with the others, defines ownership, societal order, and every other socioeconomic aspect of human civilization.

Absolute freedom, minimal government infringement, social harmony, free markets, moral excellence at every level – sounds like the Utopia we all hope for. Well, that's where libertarianism breaks down.

  • The ideas of libertarianism expect the average individual to rise above their petty, selfish impulses and strive towards a harmonious society where everybody appreciates one another. They are expected to look beyond all socio-cultural and socioeconomic identities & work together in tandem for betterment, advancement, and peace.

Easier said than done as we witness race, religion, caste, and politics become divisive factors and the causes of conflicts, riots, mass migrations, systemic slaughter, etc. While the systems in place are obviously to blame, so is man's inability to rise above their base impulses.

  • From an economic standpoint, libertarianism strives for a free market. The philosophy also expects humans to NOT look for personal gain and create a market where there’s voluntary exchange, no need for government regulations, and only the law of supply & demand controls production and consumption. The libertarian economic system is anti-capitalistic and against private ownership of any means of production in favor of public and cooperative ownership.

All in all, a libertarian economic system is heavily laissez-faire in nature and the major reason why it fails. Research & analyses on modern economics have revealed its incredibly complex, interdependent, & complex nature. People & businesses DO look for personal gain, inequality prevails at every level of the socioeconomic fabric, and corruption & misuse of power is common.

Libertarianism's highly romantic and intrinsically deterministic nature and emphasis on free will make its laissez-faire-based economic system ineffective. Suppose a man has the free will to do anything. In that case, if a governing body is not allowed to interfere in an individual's free will & liberty and if there are no moral codes to adhere to, a libertarian free market turns into a free-for-all for one and all.

Even libertarians accept the flaws of a deregulated free market. Lack of regulation creates opportunities for the people in power to impose unfair conditions on the weak.

  • The clash between individual and social freedom is particularly important in this case. The ideas of morally constrained free will and absolute personal liberty are paradoxical since an individual can do anything, including defying any acquired moral or imposed social code. Chaos ensues when coupled with minimal authoritarian intervention and a legal system incapable of enforcing restrictions on wanton liberty.

Who or what can prevent a criminal from harming or infringing upon others? Who defends individual rights, and in what way can such be protected without defying the basic tenets of libertarianism?

  • The libertarian principle of minimal governance (zero infringement upon personal liberty and free market) is based on absolute free will, ethics, and moral positivism. All three are incompatible, as evidenced by countless instances of moral decadency worldwide.

Libertarian governance is completely ignorant of the socioeconomic forces perpetuating reality. This leads to a truly free market devoid of regulations and complete contract freedom. What then prevents employers and business owners from enforcing unfair rules? What systems will then prevent an increasing disparity of wealth? What will prevent a libertarian utopia from spiraling into dystopian chaos?

Without personal and governmental regulation, a libertarian utopia is doomed to fail.

Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, libertarianism is not much different than communism or even socialism—both purport noble but impossibly idealistic & unachievable theories. Unbridled individual freedom and complete equality are like sand and water; they do not mix well, and that's simply because of human beings' fickle, vindictive, & selfish nature.

Whatever topic on libertarian philosophy you are writing on, there’s a high probability you will have to deal with its paradoxical ideologies. Addressing them will require a careful and focused analysis of the core ideas of libertarianism through the kaleidoscopic viewpoint of realism. The biggest paradox to focus on is the abstract, overtly idealistic & unrealistic, and undesirable concept of individual identity and liberty. Libertarian philosophies are atomic and do not take into account the impact & role of shared beliefs, norms, & values stemming from interactions among different kinds of collective groups.

And that brings us to the end of this write-up. Hope this was an insightful and interesting read for one & all. Crafting an excellent philosophy essay on libertarianism or its criticism can be quite a tough & hectic task. Get in touch with the philosophy essay help experts of in case you need assistance.

All the best


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