James Sterba advances several arguments designed to show that libertarianism, contrary to what this author and other libertarians think, actually implies support for welfarism and even egalitarianism. This discussion shows why his arguments do not work. There is preliminary discussion of our parameters: how much is Sterba claiming we have a minimum right to in the way of welfare? It is argued that if this is set very low, a libertarian society would easily eliminate the poverty he is concerned about, and if it is set very high, then the standard could be unmeetable and certainly could not have been met until very recently at the least. More abstractly, it is argue that Sterba is in error about the normative assumptions required for libertarianism’s strong distinction between nonharm and outright help. Once these are cleared up, it is seen that his case depends on equivocation. The duty not to harm simply does not imply a duty to help. In the closing pages, a contractarian framework is advanced to explain the libertarian’s disaffection for the kind of ‘strong’ rights Sterba wants to uphold.
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