"There can be no truly moral choice unless that choice is made in freedom; similarly, there can be no really firmly grounded and consistent defense of freedom unless that defense is rooted in moral principle. In concentrating on the ends of choice, the conservative, by neglecting the conditions of choice, loses that very morality of conduct with which he is so concerned. And the libertarian, by concentrating only on the means, or conditions, of choice and ignoring the ends, throws away an essential moral defense of his own position."
Murray N. Rothbard
(1926-1995) Dean of the Austrian School of Economics
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
OK ... so what do you call one who concentrates on the conditions of choice AND the ends? Wise.
 -- E Archer, NYC     
    Rothbard, as an economist, has here spoken volumes, of among many things, the imperialistic interventionism mind set of the U.S.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    This needs some expansion. I think he is talking about the dichotomy of form versus substance. Choice being the form and results being the substance. The difference between honoring democratic institutions and processes no matter where they may lead or dropping such institutions and processes even at the point of a gun to get the result than a non-democratic method desires.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
    Tell me, a person who is not free, say a prisoner, (whether wrongly or rightly incarcerated) is incapable of morality. Who has the right to determine morality? Is it the church, the government, the laws? I say none; Morality is in the heart and exists with no attachment either to freedom or liberty. It has no attachment to religious doctrines or the law - as most have reiterated on this and other quotes, morality does not exist where there is thought of reward or forgiveness. A moral code of behavior cannot be defined by government or religion, a moral code of behavior are values you yourself have determined. If you are kind and considerate towards others with regard to their well-being then isn’t this morality enough – what did we call this kindness and consideration towards our fellow man before the dawn of Gods. Would there be any right or wrong unless God existed? The morality of the church is steeped in stories of pain and suffering and the burnings of disbelievers – a God that would cast you into a furnace of everlasting fire where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth for all eternity is not a very compassionate God and I think I may be persuaded towards Buddhism – mud under the lotus leaf may be less painful. Like many freethinkers, such as Nietzsche and Hume, religion has probably done more harm than good when it comes to morality.
     -- RobertSRQ     
    Although Nietzsche criticized the synonymous nature of religion with morality, he, like Machiavelli, considered the relationship a necessary evil in establishing the rule of government. "Where has God gone? I shall tell you. We have killed him - you and I." Brilliant as Nietzsche was, he couldn't overcome the same obstacles that men had tried to overcome in their "invention" of God, as he tried to criticize the "absurd' belief that there was a God. His attack against morality stems from his "assumption" or "presupposition" that there wasn't a God -- just as many philosophers "assumed" that morality stemmed from their "assumption" that there was a God. Nietzsche didn't necessarily take a free and NEW approach to philosophy; he merely took the antithetical approach. He did, however, write a few correct words condemning democracy that are unmatched by nearly any other political philosopher. He understood that the "morality" of the majority, whether right or wrong, always reigns supreme in a democracy, and that this makes slaves and sheeple out of the people -- which he proves quite well.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
    Isn't morality simply convention or consensus of the majority. "When in Rome do as the Romans do"! I have heard it said that good religion is common sense. Can this be said of morality also.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
    A good reply logan
     -- RobertSRQ     
    Waffler, it depends on what philosophy you adhere to. If you believe that there is no universal constant and that all things are relative to the particular society, then yes, you're absolutely correct. But if you believe that there are universal constants, even though you cannot see it, then you can accept that morality is a constant that can exist outside the scope of some men's perception. In truth there are certain things (laws and principles) that pertain to every creature upon this earth, regardless of society. In fact, it was these laws and principles that SHAPE every society. Philosophically, it was these laws and principles the founders sought to shape our government on. There is a natural power greater than societies' majority. While other societies had claimed that morality was a subjective element to what the majority stated, our founders built upon the idea that such things as "morality" were universal constants that could be logically defined within a "natural law" setting. The confusion comes with the redefinition of terms. Morality's definition today is not what it has always been.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
    Without morality ruling supreme there will be no freedom. I think that the quote is a bit lacking without a whole lot of 'splainin' from the author.
     -- warren, olathe     
    "OK ... so what do you call one who concentrates on the conditions of choice AND the ends? Wise." Yes, wise. Also an Objectivist.
     -- anon, stumptown     
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