The â€œstrategic-thickness,â€ â€œconsequence-thickness,â€ â€œapplication-thickness,â€ and â€œgrounds-thicknessâ€ arguments strike me as pretty insubstantial, to the extent I understand them. The grounds-thickness argument, for example â€” â€œSure, private hierarchy is logically consistent with libertarianism, but itâ€™s weird!â€ â€” seems like an assertion, not an argument.
Peter, are you referring here to the paragraph on authoritarianism in Libertarianism Through Thick and Thin, under the heading of “Thickness from grounds”, which begins “Consider the conceptual reasons that libertarians have to oppose authoritarianism, not only as enforced by governments but also as expressed in culture, business, the family, and civil society. …”?
If so, I’m not surprising you find the argument unsatisfying, because that’s an extremely elliptical capsule version of the argument. It’s intended to illustrate the kind of argument that you would make for a commitment from grounds, not to give a full-on account of the argument for libertarian concern with non-coercive authoritarianism. A fuller version, with the details tricked out, would require a lot more space than I had available in that part of that particular article (which was written for print in The Freeman, and hence subject to constraints of length, and which was primarily about the varieties of thickness, not primarily about making the case for all the details of my own particular thick conception of libertarianism).
There’s a bit longer discussion of the same topic in my “Liberty, Equality, Solidarity” essay in the Long/Machan Anarchism/Minarchism anthology (particularly if you include, as background, the section on equality), which you may or may not find more satisfying.
Whether or not you find it more satisfying, though, what I’m more interested in is whether or not you accept the form of argument discussed. Specifically, an argument in which the arguer demonstrates 1. that the best reason to be a libertarian is some foundational principle X (Aristotelian natural law, rational egoism, Jeffersonian political equality, whatever your view may be); 2. that principle X implies not only that libertarianism is true, but also some other consequent, Y; and, therefore, 3. a libertarian, qua libertarian, has reason to believe in Y as well as libertarianism, even though denying Y is not inconsistent with libertarianism per se, because denying Y would be inconsistent with the reasons that justify libertarianism. (Hence, as I say, libertarians can reject Y without being inconsistent but they can’t reject it without being unreasonable.)
So, do you accept that form of argument as a legitimate one? If so, then great; that was the main purpose of the discussion, and presumably also the main purpose of Roderick’s link to my essay. If not, then what’s the problem with it?