Criticisms of Libertarianism

Like most sections of this website, this is by no means comprehensive but a starting point. I believe it is important for libertarians to listen to critics for many reasons:


Libertarians rely on private property rights to prevent pollution. Critics point out that nothing in libertarian philosophy prevents a waste firm from buying a lake in order to pollute it.

Also, while pollution's harm can be measured, its source often cannot. Pollution often is the cumulative effect of many sources. This makes a civil lawsuit solution unworkable in most cases.

Court Deficiencies

Libertarians rely on the courts to settle grievances such as pollution, child abuse, worker safety and nuclear accidents. Critics argue that this would lead to unpredictability as different judges and juries would rule differently on similar matters. Michael Nelson argued in the Saturday Review (1 March 1980) that "it seems that almost everything in a Libertarian society would end up being fought out by lawyers." Libertarians are also faulted for not specifying how judges would be chosen and what standards they would use.

Liberalism vs. Libertarianism

The liberal online magazine Salon occasionally rails against libertarianism, although their arguments often seem to be more about personality types than ideas.