Economist and libertarian David Friedman and Forum Soho Director and libertarian Epstein gene debate the resolution, “The right way to persuade people of libertarianism is to show them that its results are above their standards, without any recourse to the imperfect method principle of non-aggression.”
Coincidentally, Friedman and Epstein are 78 and Jewish. But as Epstein pointed out in his opening remarks, the comparison ends there. Friedman is the son of the famous free market Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and his wife and collaborator, economist Rose Friedman, and was intensely schooled in the art of debate while growing up. Epstein, on the other hand, cannot claim anything comparable in his own lineage.
Taking the affirmative, Friedman reviewed the main arguments set out in his book, The Machinery of Freedom: A Guide to Radical Capitalism, originally published in 1973 but published in updated editions since then. While he doesn’t think the Libertarian’s Non-Aggression Principle, or NAP, is a consistent principle, he also explained that NAP can be dispensed with to convince non-libertarians to accept libertarian solutions. to the problems of society.
Taking the negative, Epstein argued that what he preferred to call the Zero Aggression Principle, or ZAP, often plays a vital role in defending libertarian arguments for sweeping reform. He provided examples, including the abolition of drug laws and government interference in international free trade. He also touched on various aspects of Friedman’s view that ZAP is an inconsistent principle.
The debate took place in front of a live audience at noon June 23 at the Porcupine Freedom Festival (“PigFest“) in Lancaster, New Hampshire. It was hosted by the leader of PorcFest Denis Prat. As Pratt put it, the primary goal of the six-day event is to inspire libertarians to move to the “free state” of New Hampshire.