Libertarianism Allows Retributive Restitution (Which is Optimally Deterring): a reply to Joseph Ellin’s “Restitution not Retributive: A Mini-paper”


The following essay responds to a draft article that criticises the theory of libertarian restitution in “Libertarian Rectification: Restitution, Retribution, and the Risk-Multiplier” (LR). The article was freely available to internet search engines. Hence, it seems fair and useful to reply to these very welcome objective criticisms. It is not intellectually relevant that its author might subsequently and subjectively have thought better of them, possibly as a result of the earlier version of this reply. Generally, the article misconstrues the position on retribution in LR. Eventually, it makes apparent qualifications to its own position such that there does not seem to be any clear theoretical difference between the two on the central disputed issue. LR’s position is to explain and defend only the non-normative theory of libertarian restitution: full restoration or compensation to the damaged (initiatedly imposed on) party. But it is argued that this can include a retributive aspect if that is what the victim prefers. Moreover, such restitution will tend to act as a deterrent that maximises both overall interpersonal liberty (theorised as no initiated imposed costs) and human welfare (theorised as preference satisfaction).

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J. C. Lester
London School of Economics


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