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Don't anarchists assume that all people are innately virtuous?

by Bryan Caplan

This is a perfectly reasonable question, for it is indeed the case that some anarchists expect a remarkable change in human nature to follow (or precede?) the establishment of an anarchist society. This assumption partially explains the frequent lack of explanation of how an anarchist society would handle crime, dissenting individualists, and so on.

The belief in innate human virtue is normally found only among left-anarchist thinkers, but of course it does not follow, nor is it true, that all left-anarchist thinkers believe in humanity's innate human virtue.

Anarcho-capitalists have a very different picture of human nature. While they normally believe that people have a strong capacity for virtuous action (and it is to people's moral sense that they frequently appeal when they favour the abolition of the state), they believe that it is wise and necessary to cement moral virtue with material incentives. Capitalism's system of unequal wages, profits and losses, rent and interest, is not only morally justified but vitally necessary for the preservation and expansion of the economy. In short, anarcho-capitalists believe in and indeed must depend on some reasonable level of human morality, but prefer to rely on material incentives when feasible. (Similarly, they morally condemn crime and believe that most people have no desire to commit crimes, but strongly favour some sort of criminal justice system to deter the truly amoral.)

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Anarchism

What Is Anarchism? What Beliefs Do Anarchists Share?

Why Should One Consider Anarchism In The First Place?

Don’t Anarchists Favour Chaos?

Don’t Anarchists Favour The Abolition Of The Family, Property, Religion, And Other Social Institutions Besides The State?

What Major Subdivisions May Be Made Among Anarchists?

Is Anarchism The Same Thing As Libertarianism?

Is Anarchism The Same Thing As Socialism?

Who Are The Major Anarchist Thinkers?

How Would Left-anarchy Work?

What Criticisms Have Been Made Of Anarchism?

What Other Anarchist Viewpoints Are There?

What Is Anarcho–Capitalism?

What Is Anarcho–Communism?

What Moral Justifications Have Been Offered For Anarchism?

What Are The Major Debates Between Anarchists? What Are The Recurring Arguments?

How Would Anarchists Handle The “Public Goods” Problem

Are Anarchists Pacifists?

Are Anarcho–Capitalists Anti–War?

Have There Been Any Historical Examples Of Anarchist Societies?

Isn’t Anarchism Utopian?

Don’t Anarchists Assume That All People Are Innately Virtuous?

Aren’t Anarchists Terrorists?

How Might An Anarchist Society Be Achieved?

Why Should One Consider Anarcho-Capitalism?

Do Anarcho-Capitalists Favour Chaos?

Is Anarcho-Capitalism Utopian?

What Justifications Are There For Anarcho-Capitalism?

Are There Different Types Of Anarcho-Capitalism?

How Do Anarcho-Capitalists Compare With Other Anarchists?

Is Anarcho-Capitalism The Same Thing As Libertarianism?

How Would Anarcho-Capitalism Work?

How Would Anarcho-Capitalists Handle The “Public Goods” Problem?

What Will A Stateless Society Look Like?

Have There Been Any Anarcho-Capitalist Societies?

Can Anarcho-Capitalism Work?

How Might An Anarcho-Capitalist Society Be Achieved?

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