Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Ph.D.




ARI ARMSTRONG, LIBERTY 17, no. 2 (FEBRUARY 2003): 49-52.

"The Dialectics of Liberty"

Armstrong writes:  "Polls conducted by Liberty magazine suggest that libertarians are increasingly moving away from a 'moralistic' conception of libertarianism, and toward a consequentialist one.  Along with Jeffrey Friedman of Critical Review, Chris Matthew Sciabarra may best represent this shift.  The tendency is fully evident in Total Freedom, the third in Sciabarra's series on dialectical libertarianism. . . .

"In Total Freedom, Sciabarra criticizes all reductionist approaches and favors a richer, more inclusive libertarianism.  As in his previous work (Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical), Sciabarra loads his title with meaning. . . . The 'dialectical' libertarianism that he has in mind is not Marxist or Hegelian but a much more common-sensical stressing of the relationships that need to be traced among all considerations bearing on freedom. . . . Sciabarra immediately establishes the possibility that a contextualized, dialectical conception of freedom may produce quite different results from what certain influential libertarians, such as Murray Rothbard, had in mind. . . . Sciabarra begins his history with the chapter, 'Aristotle: The Fountainhead,' to emphasize the breadth of the dialectical tradition. . . . [and later] turns to the dialectical traditions that became the foundation of libertarianism. . . . Sciabarra's analysis points the way to significant corrections to Rothbard's work. . . .

". . . Sciabarra achieved what he set out to do: reclaim the dialectical tradition from the Marxists, who abused it, and make the case to libertarians that they should adopt a more dialectical point of view.  Because he understands the impact of ideas on history, Sciabarra wants to make sure that libertarianism blossoms into a fully dialectical enterprise.  Absent a sound dialectical foundation, a libertarian program would be at best ineffectual and at worst harmful.  For Sciabarra, who shows an overriding concern for human well-being, a dialectical libertarianism is our best hope for achieving a better, increasingly humane world."

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