TOWARD A DIALECTICAL LIBERTARIANISM
JAMES OTTESON, IDEAS ON LIBERTY 51, NO. 10 (OCTOBER 2001): 57-58.
James Otteson, a professor of philosophy at the University of Alabama, writes: "This book is the third in a trilogy from Chris Matthew Sciabarra. . . . Sciabarra's discussion of 'dialectic' in Part One is meticulous. He sees 'dialectic' not in the Marxian sense of a material process mechanically producing the future based on the past, but rather as a process of thought that can lead individuals to discover truth . . . Sciabarra's dialectic is an Aristotelian 'orientation' in thinking that is chiefly characterized by an 'emphasis on context.' It avoids static, apriori thought and is marked instead by dynamic 'this-worldly analysis' applied to problems 'that are real, concrete, important to our survival as humans, not as gods or goddesses.'"
Sometimes, says Otteson, Sciabarra is "overly reliant on jargon," but Sciabarra's emphasis on the world as an integrated whole is "an attempt to lay the groundwork for a grand unification theory for a social science dedicated to human freedom. That is an ambitious and laudable agenda in a world where the boundaries of freedom are shrinking."
Otteson criticizes Sciabarra for delving into areas that could not be discussed at length in the book, but he praises Part Two of the book, on Murray Rothbard. Here, "Sciabarra works with great care, exhibiting an impressive command not only of Rothbard's works but of commentary as well. Rothbard's works manifest just the kind of dialectical sensitivity Sciabarra seeks. . . . Rothbard is perhaps for Sciabarra the Platonic Form of libertarian scholar" in the synthesis of his project. Rothbard shows this "completed social science of human freedom . . . is both possible and practicable." And when Sciabarra turns to a discussion of those contemporary theorists working in the dialectical libertarian tradition, his "most interesting" discussion "weaves their individual projects together in an ingenious way. Sciabarra's book succeeds in taking a large step indeed toward fulfilling his goal of enabling a 'full-fledged, integrated, dialectical case for individual liberty.'"
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