A Humble Creed

I’m talking about substance, not style. Regrettably, someone could display arrogance while insisting that neither he nor anyone else could possibly know enough to plan other people’s lives. However off-putting that style, it does not change the fact that the position embodies a fundamental humility. There are inherent limits to any individual’s knowledge, and therefore government social engineering, which requires the use of aggressive force, must fail.

To put it succinctly, libertarianism has humility baked in at the most fundamental level.

Humility is not to be conflated with radical doubt, however. One can be humble while also believing it is possible to know things. And some things, including the nature and market implications of human action, can be known conceptually. One can know, for example, that intelligently planning an economy or even a particular market is beyond anyone’s, including one’s own, capacities.

This is from the one and only Sheldon Richman, writing for the FFF. Check out the rest. (h/t Warren G)

NOL‘s own tagline, “Spontaneous thoughts on a humble creed,” comes from this same recognition. I first came across the argument that libertarianism is a “humble creed” in F.A. Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty. Hayek’s simple but hard-to-see point was what sold me on libertarianism actually.

2 thoughts on “A Humble Creed

  1. The ‘humility’ that you are describing here is what attracted me to libertarianism in the first place as well – next to the NAP. I think Karl Popper expressed the humility wonderfully when talking about the ‘piecemeal engineer’. He said that the piecemeal engineer knows, like Socrates, how little he knows.

Please keep it civil

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s