Journal of Libertarian Studies

A Groundwork for Rights: Man’s Natural End

The Journal of Libertarian Studies

Murray Rothbard, in a paper entitled “The Ethics of Liberty,” argued that the standard for moral goodness is set by man’s nature. Whatever fulfills the nature of a living thing is good, and whatever diminishes the nature of a living thing is bad. When the living thing in question is a human being and when we are speaking of chosen ends, then we are speaking of moral “goods” and “bads.” Rothbard, in almost all respects, endorsed a natural-law doctrine as the groundwork for rights.

David Osterfeld, in response to Rothbard, claimed that Rothbard had failed to show why the actions of a human being should be in accord with his nature. The axiological rule that human behavior should conform to the requirements and needs of human life did not have “scientific status.”

Volume 4, Number 1 (1980)


Rasmussen, Douglas B. “A Groundwork for Rights: Man’s Natural End.” Journal of Libertarian Studies 4, No.1 (1980): 65-76.

All Rights Reserved ©
What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. 

Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

Become a Member
Mises Institute