Friday, February 13, 2009

Libertarian Principles. Well, Principles in General

Randy Barnett over at Volokh Conspiracy relates why it's a bad idea to let judges tear up mortgage contracts. It's a current issue - whether bankruptcy judges can modify existing mortgages in the current credit crisis. Barnett links to a fuller discussion of that issue in the WSJ, but tackles the more general ideas on his own.

Libertarian first principles can be analogized to having a cheat sheet of answers to a multiple choice test. While you might know the right answer--which is certainly useful--you won't know exactly why the answer is right, which is needed to truly understand the subject being tested. And without such an understanding, one cannot explain the "right answer" to others and why it is right.
I note that the same thing often happens to Christians - many of them know the right doctrinal answer, but do not know or are unable to articulate why it's the right answer. CS Lewis would say that if you cannot explain something in plain language, you don't really understand it. Deprived of your familiar jargon, explanations will of course be much longer. But they should be possible.

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