When I was in my late twenties, American Libertarianism was very attractive to me, because of the intellectual tradition. F. A. Hayek, Ludwig Von Mises, David Boaz, and the English heritage of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, all appealed to me greatly because it seemed to offer both a logical explanation for the state, as well as a moral foundation for its legitimacy. Some of that intellectual tradition remains with me to this day.
Most people don’t spend much effort considering fundamental questions like “where does value come from” or “what is real” or “why is there anything at all”. They take the world of sense experience and intuition as a given, and assume objective reality from that. This given-ness extends itself all the way up to social and political life. Contrary to the fantasy we have of ourselves in the west, as rational actors who think for ourselves, the vast majority of opinions are not conclusions drawn from careful reasoning, but accumulations of received opinion modified by cognitive shocks.
In his book, “Anarchy, State, and Utopia”, Robert Nozick offers the Wilt Chamberlain thought experiment in order to demonstrate how a conception of justice based on “end-state patterned distributions” (as he put it) would require constant coercive interventions on the part of the state, in order to maintain the desired pattern. This, in turn, would undermine theories of justice that incorporated liberty into their framework. John Rawls’ theory of justice is one such example.