Is there a legal age of consent in Libertopia?

I know the Libertarians on this board have already been asked every question imaginable but I have yet to find an answer to the issue of consent. I’m curious if there is a predetermined age in Libertopia where consent becomes legal and binding (for both contracts and sex). If this age does exist, who determines what it is? If this age does not exist, is pedophilia considered non-coercive and would a 10 year old be able to enter into a binding 40 year contract?

I’d appreciate anyone’s help on this topic - I can’t see a way around a legal age of consent but I also can’t see a way to legislate it in a Libertarian context. There may very well be an easy answer to this that I’m just missing but on the chance that there may be some disagreement I put it here - hope it’s the right forum.

Hmmm. In the state of nature, no contract is binding. One is free to break deals. One is also free to hunt down & kill those who break deals. Or hunt down & kill randomly selected people. Obviously, this line of thought is getting me nowhere, as far as Libertarian dogma. :wink:


Bear with me; I’ll give you the short answer summation at the end. Libertarianism holds that an adult is a rights bearing entity who is capable of giving meaningful consent. A child is one of the rights bearing entities who are not capable of meaningful consent. The first people responsible for determining whether a child has become an adult are the child’s parents, because of the responsibility they bear as the sole consenting parties to a unary contract with the child. However, the child has rights too. Therefore, the child himself may appeal to arbitration if he believes that his parents have misjudged him. Suppose, for example, that they release him to adulthood prematurely or refuse to release him to adulthood long past the time they should. He may call for the arbtitration that his parents, as consenting parties have paid for, to determine whether he is or is not an adult. Other interested parties may also appeal to arbitration if they believe that the child has been coerced. Abusing a child in any manner — physically, emotionally, sexually, etc. — is a coercion, since the child is incapable of giving meaningful consent. Note that the same principle applies to other rights bearing entities as well, such as retarded people or people with severe mental or emotional handicaps. They, too, are rights bearing entities but incapable of giving meaningful consent. So, in short, it has nothing to do with age, but everything to do with the ability to give or withhold consent. Some people might be adults at 15 and others might not be adults at 35.

What happens in a situation where a family is dim-witted? Suppose two parents take an extreme view of emancipation and declare their kids “adults” at the age of four? Assuming the four year old thinks it’s a great idea to be a grown up is he or she now legally an adult? Or is there some third party that can step in?

And some of us are a bit more pragmatic about it.

Since there’s no universally fair way to assess the maturity of any given individual, each culture should be able to determine at what average age a person can/should be expected to assume the responsibilities of adulthood. Sort of a “default setting;” Though I’d agree with Lib that there should be a way that parents/children can declare the child is an adult sooner if they so choose.

I covered that. Please reread more carefully.

And who are these arbitrators? The parent’s relatives?


Thanks for your answers! So let me see if I understand this scenario as you’ve presented it **Libertarian **. You have a child whose parents own property in Libertopia but who do not consent to be governed. Their child has no legal right to offer up his own consent to be governed so he has no standing to request arbitration in his own case. However, any interested party who **has ** consented to be governed can step in and request arbitration on his behalf. Is this correct? Is there any particular standing/relationship that an interested party must have to request the arbitration over a non-governed individual in Libertopia?

Furt, in your scenario is the legal, default age of consent universal or are there varying ages for sex, contracts, voting, etc.?

They are agents of government, similar to judges.

Oops **Liberal ** sorry for getting your name wrong. I’ve been lurking for years before I posted and I forgot about your change.

That is a contradiction. The Libertopian government would have no authority over any adult who did not consent to be governed. Therefore, let us say that the parents are anarchists and are not citizens of Libertopia.

The child is, unfortunately, as far out of reach of the Libertorpian government as a Serbian child is out of reach of the American government, since they are not citizens of Libertopia. However, there is nothing to prevent a private citizen or group of citizens who are Libertopian from rescuing a child from a coercive condition even if his parents are anarchists.

No problem. :slight_smile: Here is a very good book if you are interesting in principles of classical liberalism (or modern libertarianism). You can download it or read it online free of charge.

Gotcha. This makes sense to me - my paradigm shift is coming along slowly :slight_smile:

Would you mind another question? Is there any regulation or documentation of biological weapons in Libertopia or would a company operating peacefully and honestly be able to develop mass quantities of Seren gas and sell to the highest bidder?

Incidentally, Margalita, if you’re looking for someone who can show that libertarian principles can protect children perfectly, then I’m not the one. They don’t. They can’t. Nothing except for a moral imperative, such as that given to us by Jesus can do that. Libertarianism is no more a perfect solution than the present one, in which an extremely immature 19-year-old may be out on his own even though he is incapable of fending for himself, while a very mature 17-year-old must stay on the farm another year under the thumb of his domineering parents. In Libertopia, it is certainly possible that a child could be misjudged by his parents, by his government, and by every relative, neighbor, and philanthropist who might be an interested party. My only contention in this matter is that, for me, it is a better standard by which to make sense of the matter than an arbitrary age.

There is very strict regulation against the initiation of force or deception. That regulation applies as much to business dealings as to civic dealings. Since the company in your hypothetical is operating peacefully and honestly, the Libertopian government has no authority over its affairs until and unless the business it conducts results in harm or threat of harm to a Libertopian or his property.

But in my scenario (assuming there are no ‘controlled substances’ in Libertopia) the business it conducts (building biological weapons) does not result in harm or threat of harm any more than the business of a gun manufacturer would. So the business is operating peacefully, and the purchaser of the Seren Gas (as long as he does not use the gas) is operating peacefully. The problem is that no military can truly protect its citizens against the use biological weapons so long as they are legal to posses. What am I missing here?

Missing about what? Have you left something out? You seem to have answered your own question. :slight_smile: The only part that I see any problem with is the application of a concrete fact to a hypothetical assumption. You have just described an incredibly profitable market for entrepreneurs that could, in and of itself, make the Seren business obsolete.

Either way.

I should add, though, that I probably shouldn’t be speaking about “libertopia” … I am a regustered and philosophical, but very much a moderate, and do not really want to see “libertopia” the way Lib might.

I guess what Im missing is how a private business, that could make money by protecting people from Seren gas, would operate within the confines of the law of non-coercion. How does this business make the Seren business obsolete (unless this business is a Seren Antidote business)? I see the market need but not the practical application.

Due respect, I would just like to say that, in my opinion, there is no more moderate a position than advocating that a government secure the rights of peaceful honest people to pursue their own happiness in their own way. Any other position seems to me extreme.

Given the freedom to act and the motive to profit from the action, entrepreneurs now have opportunities of all kinds. There are those who manufacture, as you say, the antidote; those who offer consumer advocacy services (they monitor SarinCorp very closely for their stockholders, waiting to pounce on the slightest coercion from a very risky business, such as a tiny leak of trace elements on adjoining property or corrupt business practice); those who produce sarin neutralizing enzymes (as Genencor has done); those who provide consumer watchdog services, such as Eyewitness News Consumer Alert, doing features on the safety and efficacy of what everyone else is doing; and those who offer alternative chemicals for legitimate use as a pesticide, which is presumably what your SarinCorp uses its product for. All of these could greatly affect the profitibility of SarinCorp. One other thing that you might be missing is the fact that government has not proven itself trustworthy as a guardian of dangerous chemicals. Type the phrase “chemical dumps government” into Google, and you’ll see what I mean. And when government is in control of such things, there is nothing entrepreneurs can do to counter it, other than what government will allow. Remember that laws can be written to protect government from citizens, rather than the other way around, which is why Libertopia has only one law and no legislative body.

I reread it very carefully and I’m still not seeing it. You explained that parents were the “first people responsible” for determining whether a child was an adult but the child in question could request arbitration if he or she disagreed with the parents’ decision. But in the scenario I described the parents and child agree on the decision.

You also said that “other interested parties may also appeal to arbitration if they believe that the child has been coerced”. But there was no coercion involved in my scenario, just poor decision making.

So who’s considered an interested party in a case like this? And what grounds, if any, do they have to request an arbitration when the parties directly involved agree on what’s happening?

Suppose two 17 year olds decide they want to get married and receive the blessing of all four of their parents. Could a neighbour down the street decide that they were too young and intervene to have their adult rights revoked? What if the couple was 18 or 21 or 14? What if one member of the couple was 14 and the other was 21?