Do you know many people who are keen on murder? No? How about rape? Do you know many people that are big fans of rape? What about robbery? Assault? Fraud? Anything aggressive? No, me neither. So why aren’t libertarians in the majority?
Maybe we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by presenting libertarianism as a theory. Or, rather, as a distinct theory, when it is – or at least it can be understood as – simply the consistent application of beliefs almost everybody already holds.
As soon as something is seen as a theory, challenging it becomes a game, a sport. People who in ordinary life would never dream of attempting to justify murder or robbery or whatever, delight in inventing all sorts of elaborate examples to disprove libertarianism.
“What if there was a baby on a desert island, and it’s parents were both in comas, and the baby was diabetic, and the island was owned by an evil genius? What would you libertarians do then, eh?” Should you be unable to immediately provide a compelling answer in a sentence or two – well, this refutes libertarianism.
Even if you can make light work of the diabetic baby/evil genius problem there will be more where that came from. “What if there was a panther in a public library, and the library was full of children, and terrorists had infected the panther with AIDS, and the library was on a private road, etc, etc, etc”. (Incidentally, these sorts of problems apparently prove that libertarianism is an ‘unrealistic’ philosophy).
This is not to say theory is unimportant. But given that most people roughly agree with us about non-aggression already, perhaps the focus – at the outset – should be on getting them to apply their preexisting moral principles to politicians as well as to private individuals. After all, politicians are people too.