Liberty Matters

A Response to Ebeling on Harm


Mill concedes in On Liberty that the defense of private property (and the market economy in general) rests on somewhat different grounds.
Liberty in one's personal life (as opposed to the market) is sacrosanct as long as it does not harm others. Mill thinks there are cases where no one is harmed.  If it harms others, then the proponents of interference must show (the onus is on them) that the interference itself does less harm.  We are innocent until proven guilty.
Competition in the market economy inevitably creates short-term losers. The interests of other people are always involved.  There is always harm in some sense. Here we must always show that the good consequences of a free market usually (90% of the time) outweigh the bad consequences.  The onus is on the defenders of private property.