Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Looking Back at Randy Barnett

I really couldn’t think of anything to write about so I just decided to read something from earlier in the semester and then write on that. When reading Randy E. Barnett’s, “The Moral Foundations of Modern Libertarianism,” and “A Law Professor’s Guide to Natural Law and Natural Rights,” I discovered many great ideas that Barnett argued that I agreed with. He gave his argument and then gave great support to explain to his audience why he believed certain things. One idea that he stated which I really agreed with is when he said, “Most people do not want to sacrifice their liberty to act even if such sacrifices would significantly benefit others” (Libertarianism 6). Even in today’s society this statement is still true. If I have something that I truly believe in or hold dear to my heart, then I would not give this up even if me giving this up would benefit many others. For example, if I have a piece of land that has been in my family for centuries and it means the world to me, I would not want to give this up even if it benefited others. If people wanted me to give up some of my land they that they could build an interstate to connect two major cities, I would do everything in my power to hold on to what is mine. It is my right as a citizen of this country to do with my property as I wish and if I did not want to sell my land then that’s just too bad for everyone else. This idea is important to me because it illustrates the right that we as American citizens should have.
In the essay, Barnett brings up a problem that is a part of every society. He states, “Given that the actions of each person in society are likely to have effects on others, on what conditions is it possible for persons to live and pursue happiness in society with other persons” (Libertarianism 11). When I read this problem, the first thing that comes to my mind is that there probably is no answer to totally answer this question. The reason I believe that “it possible for persons to live and pursue happiness in society with other persons” (Libertarianism 11), is because an individual needs other people to achieve happiness in a cooperative manner. For instance, if I am a business owner, and I see happiness as being well off financially then, I need people to purchase a good or service of mine in order to achieve my happiness. If I do not have others in society then I would never be able to pursue my happiness.
Another great point that Barnett makes is in his essay, “A Law Professor’s Guide to Natural Law and Natural Rights,” when he states that “Whether we attempt to feed ourselves, build bridges, or live a good life is a matter of choice. How we go about making our attempts and whether we succeed or fail will be constrained by natural law” (Natural 666). This is a great statement because when we make everyday decisions we have to take into account natural laws which no matter how bad we may want to, will never be able to change. A great example that Barnett uses is when he says that it might make someone happy to jump off a building, however that person needs to remember that gravity is a natural law and causes to person a fall fast, so if he/she wants to keep on living then he/she will not jump. “The existence of gravity and the nature of the human body lead to the following natural law injunction for human action: given that gravity will cause us to fall rapidly and that our bodies will not withstand the fall, if we want to live and be happy, then we better not jump of tall buildings” (Natural 657).
Barnett has many great ideas that he explains thoroughly in his essay. To be honest however, this was not one of my favorite readings so far in class. I enjoy reading essays where the author gets to his point quickly and then supports his theory with great facts and detail.

No comments: