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Ep. 79 Stephan Kinsella and Bob Murphy Debate Hans Hoppe’s “Argumentation Ethics”

By popular demand, Bob brings Stephan back on the podcast, this time to debate Hans Hoppe’s famous “argumentation ethics” case for libertarianism. Stephan defends Hoppe’s claim that any attempt to justify a NON-libertarian system would result in a performative contradiction, while Bob clarifies the argument and raises concerns about it.

Mentioned in the Episode and Other Links of Interest:

The audio production for this episode was provided by Podsworth Media.

About the author, Robert

Christian and economist, Chief Economist at infineo, and Senior Fellow with the Mises Institute.


  1. on 11/24/2019 at 12:14 AM

    Who’s saying the other side is attempting to have an argument (by Stephan’s definition) over this? Plenty of reasons to talk instead of smack him over the head that still do not grant the idea that there is a fair argument. I’d argue that most people, when defining rights, are more intent on a kangaroo court trial than a fair argument: they have their mind made up, and they just want a solution that makes them look rational. Clubbing Stephan over the head doesn’t make them look rational (to others or themselves), seeming to win a faux-argument does.

  2. Tel on 11/25/2019 at 9:15 PM

    I can’t put my finger on it exactly … but there’s a feeling that this is assuming what it sets out to prove.

    Here’s an example from the Communist Manifesto:

    Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each others’ wives.

    Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with, is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised system of free love. For the rest, it is self-evident, that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private.

    This is the type of thing that passes as a rational argument among the “Progressive” community … smear the opponent by coming up with unproven accusations of impropriety. It’s not a unique example … consider the way Jeff Deist was accused of racism without meaningful evidence. This kind of thing happens all the time.

    So has Marx violated “Argumentation Ethics”? That largely depends on your point of view regarding what a “rational argument” should consist of. Clearly, many people believe that name calling is legitimate argumentation, while other people regard it as stupid, childish and even dishonest. Where do you want to go from there? Different people have different ways of seeing the world, and come to different conclusions. We conclude that we disagree, but we knew that already.

    Here’s another example … you hear the statement “We need to have the conversation.” over certain topics. It suggests a meaningful two-way dialog and exchange of ideas perhaps. There is a highly “Progressive” website in Australia which they named “The Conversation” where people can post articles and others comment at the bottom (yeah I know, just like every other website, no one said the idea was original). Recently this website called “The Conversation” decided that it wasn’t worth their while debating about Global Warming so they came up with a general policy that if you in any way question the political narrative over Global Warming they immediately delete your comments and ban you.

    That’s what they do when they can’t win arguments, they shut people up … but still call themselves “The Conversation” despite admitting that it’s one sided. Again, where do you want to go from there?

  3. Jan Masek on 11/30/2019 at 7:43 PM

    So I was really looking forward to this but I am going to have to listen to it again, I must have missed when Dr Murphy explained what his problem was with Hoppe’s argument (I know he referred to something like it was proving too much, e.g. if you have to have standing room that does not prove you get to own the land or something along the lines) and when Kinsella replied. There was a lot of explaining of what Hoppe meant but not much argument between the two great men.
    Heck, I don’t even know if Dr Murphy changed his mind and now supports it due to Kinsella’s arguments, or if he realized he didn’t fully understand Hoppe’s argument and after clarifying he now gets it and agrees. Or if he still has objections. Like I said, I will have to listen again.

    I LOVE the idea of two libertarians talking about what they DISagree on. We have plenty of patting each other on the back and it’s fun (think Murphy Woods or Woods Rockwell)
    but when two civilised and smart people do not agree on something, that’s when we learn the most. I’d like to see even more of it, from the top of my head left vs right (maybe with Jeffrey Tucker who is/was fantastic but apparently has become a left libertarian), money with Selgin or White, Austrianism with Caplan, religion with (again) Kinsella.

    • Robert Murphy on 12/02/2019 at 12:16 AM

      Jan be sure to check out my paper with Gene to see what our problems were with a particular version of the argument:

      • Jan Masek on 12/06/2019 at 8:42 PM

        Yes, thank you. I know about it and once had a go at it but it was hard to follow so gave up 🙂 i’ll try again.
        But would you say overall this talk with Kinsella 1) made you change your mind because Kinsella clarified the key problems you had with Hoppe 2) clarified a few points but overall didn’t change your mind 3) you changed Kinsella’s mind and Hoppe really “didn’t do it”?

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