Digest of terms


a philosophical and political belief in the rights of the individual as over against those of any state. All the rights possessed by a state are given to it entirely by individuals. Any controls exercised by governments should therefore be kept to a minimum and limited principally to defence against external threats and a system of policing and civil and criminal justice. Even defence is regarded as a matter of individual discretion, hence the link between libertarian views and opposition to gun control in the USA. Advocacy of the reduced 'nightwatchman state' is rooted in exceptionally strong interpretations of individual rights and liberty, and sometimes in ethical egoism. Taken a step further, libertarianism becomes in effect anarchism.

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