The definition of libertarianism is the legal theory (which has political ramifications) which holds that no man may initiate aggression, or threat to initiate aggression, against the property of another human being, lest he engage in criminal behavior. That is to say, under the libertarian legal theory, a criminal is defined as one who breaches the above described “Non-Aggression Principle.” The logically deduced implications of this principle includes actions such as theft, murder, rape, fraud, breach of contract, trespassing, battery, kidnapping, and so on. For the libertarian, that which is illegal is determined in terms of private property ownership and therefore not all things that may be categorized as immoral, unethical, sinful, and so on are necessarily criminal.
The Reformed libertarian agrees with all of this and thus in this way, we don’t differentiate “our type” of libertarianism from a “regular one” when it comes to the meaning of libertarianism. We are purist, Rothbardian-Hoppean libertarians.
What we are trying to communicate, however, with our phrase, is that when we look at the foundation or justification of the above meaning of libertarianism, we source it within the context of a Christian worldview, the epistemology and moral theory of which is distinct from other potential foundations for libertarianism.
For instance, there are utilitarian libertarians (Mises), Natural Law libertarians (Rothbard), Kantian libertarians (Hoppe). There are others as well. But what libertarians have in common is not their worldview, not their justification of knowledge, and not their personal lifestyle preferences. Rather, they have in common their agreement with the first paragraph above. Libertarianism is a set of propositions. Anyone who assents to those propositions is a libertarian. Libertarianism is “thin,” which means that it is a set of statements about the use of force in society, but the doctrine itself is distinct from the defense of that doctrine. Rothbard and Hoppe are not two types of libertarians, and neither are we a distinct type. The “Reformed” in Reformed Libertarian is not a qualification of the libertarian part. What we propose is that libertarianism, since it is a political theory based on ethical positions, can be best defended from a Christian philosophical system, since Christianity best justifies ethics.
Absolutely not. Libertarianism is built on ethics and is in fact especially moral precisely because it opposes the moral subjectivism inherent in the idea that, by virtue of the office one holds in society, one has moral permission to violate the ethical standard. Libertarianism is chiefly about the ethical problems with initiating force against those who have not first harmed anyone else. If the citizen does not have the right to initiate aggression (steal, murder, commit fraud or battery, etc.), then neither does the man in a government position.
What people can do is sharply limited to the bounds and restrictions of other people’s property rights.
Moreover, libertarianism is a legal theory and discusses what people can and cannot do without a coercive response by a government. Just because something is legal (lying) does not mean that it is moral. The libertarian can–and should– certainly affirm moral principles.