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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Many political theorists take the phenomenon of market failure to show that arguments for libertarianism fail in a straightforward way. This chapter explains why the most common form of this objection depends on invalid reasoning, and why a more sophisticated examination of the relevant economics has led most contemporary economists and policy experts to a view that might be called Default Libertarianism, according to which the strong default for public policy—even in response to market failures—should be toward decentralized, pro-individual freedom policies that involve minimal government intervention in markets. Some experts (but by no means all) similarly believe that even in the face of substantial market failures, libertarian policies are generally best all things considered. This shift toward more libertarian policy represents an important change from the middle of the twentieth century. This chapter explains the structure of the arguments that have led to this shift.

Keywords: market failure, libertarianism, public policy, political theory, government regulation, tragedy of the commons

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