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Stefan Molyneux and Me



Stefan Molyneux seems to be the hot new thing among young anarcho-capitalists. Not old fuddy-duds like me.

He is the author for example of Universally Preferable Behavior, a book that attempts to expound a rationally impregnable (and secular) ethical system.

I have not read that, or anything else of Molyneux's. I leave to those who have read it to pass on its merits.

I do not rely entirely upon secondary sources, though. I did spend some time listening to one of his podcasts, the beginning of a comprehensive course on philosophy he offers here.  That particular link leads you to a forty minute effort to introduce the subject matter of the remainder of a series. The gist of it, if I understand it at all, is that philosophy, in the sense in which Molyneux proposes to use the term for the duration of the course, the sort of philosophy he hopes to teach, is: a lot like empirical science -- indeed it is empirical science, writ large -- such that any inferences a philosopher reaches must be subject to the check of facticity.

I'm not interested in arguing with that definition of philosophy, but I have to say it does seem to be the consequence of a lot more hemming and hawing than it is worth. It shouldn't take 40 minutes to say what I said in the second half of the final sentence of the previous paragraph. Just say it and get on with whatever is the actual philosophizing you hope to do under that or any other definitional rubric.

He can't give me that 40 minute block of my time back, and he didn't make such a use of it as would induce me to give him more.

I must say also that what I have heard about Molyneux from sources I consider reliable, suggests that reading him or listening to further such podcasts is not really an imperative. He would seem to be re-packaging the arguments with which some of us are already familiar from the works of David Friedman or Murray Rothbard.

Still, there is room in the world for popularizers, and if he can expand the sphere of those familiar with Rothbardian ideas: good for him.  If some of the people who learn of these ideas from him come to think of them as Molyneuxian ideas -- that's okay, too

Anyway, a Facebook friend recently referred me to this, a personal message from Molyneux to his admirers about his diagnosis with cancer.

I wish him well, as I would wish any other patient in the same situation well. And I said so on the comment thread created by that FB posting. But I also had to say in all candor that I'm not one of his admirers.

I hope to be corrected if I'm wrong about him, though, while minimizing the risk of giving up further blocks of time to no effect. So: any Molyneuxians out there: feel free. Give me the elevator pitch. Why is he important?

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