Brooke Reaves: The Libertarian View on Discrimination

By Brooke Reaves 09.01.2016 blog

The libertarian view on discrimination is the most difficult part of the libertarian philosophy to explain. I will do my best.

I think that discrimination against any and all groups should be legal in the private sector (not in the public sector), even though I think it is morally wrong. I know this seems like a paradox. For example, when it comes to businesses, they should be able to hire or fire anyone for any reason—it is their business and how they run it, who works for them, and how much they offer as salary should be entirely THEIR decision.

An example: suppose that a store that sell burqas only wants to hire Muslim women so that they can wear the product; that store should be legally allowed to do that! (After all, a business owner could discriminate against and not hire someone based on race, gender, etc., but just say it was another reason; there is no actual way to prove whether or not someone discriminated unless they say that they did.)

Furthermore, businesses should be able to refuse service to whoever they want for whatever reason. (They are the ones who lose revenue.) Like I mentioned in my post on libertarianism, all exchanges should be consensual and mutually beneficial, and if one party does not want to participate they should not be forced to participate because of the law. Even if a business refused service because a customer was an African-American transgender homosexual, would the business just lose the revenue from that person? Of course not! We Americans are unique in our love for public protest and boycotts (just remember: Boston Tea Party). The community, media, society, etc., would ostracize that business for discrimination; it would lose a LOT of money, and would probably learn not to discriminate. Even if I wasn’t the one being discriminated against, I wouldn’t want to give my money to any prejudiced (racist, homophobic, transphobic, etc.) institution at all.

When it comes to college admissions, I think that affirmative action programs are not okay. I don’t think it’s okay to say that out of two people who are equally qualified, the person who is of a minority (question: what do we even define as a minority? Just things that are visible from the way we look? That seems very superficial to me. Furthermore, the smallest minority is the individual.) is the one who should be admitted. I don’t think that colleges or universities, public or private, should even ask for gender or race or ethnicity on applications; that information is not necessary for them to understand and get to know me as a person. I do not think that public universities/colleges should be allowed (legally) to ask those questions. However, even though I disagree with affirmative action, private colleges and universities should be able to admit anyone for any reason, so it should be legal for them.

Ultimately, discrimination in every way is a despicable practice. But, just because I disagree with something and wouldn’t do it in my own life, doesn’t mean that it’s okay to limit how others conduct themselves in their own lives. A further clarification: do I think that discrimination is right or moral? No, I don’t. I don’t think it’s okay to view people merely as the groups with which they identify, and I don’t agree with collectivism on either side for many reasons.


  1. Unknown

    They are good but could be better

  2. Bailey from Texas

    Races are like crayons. Even though our colors are all different, we are all put in the same box. ️‍

  3. Bailey

    We should all stand together! No matter the race!

  4. Bailey

    “Segregation was wrong when it was forced by white people. It is still wrong when it is requested by black people” Coratta Scott King

  5. Cindy Nguyen

    I believe that discrimination is an idiotic way to judge people. We are all equal, and no one is above another. If you want to determine if you should be friends with someone or not, talk to them. Let it be by their character for you to make that decision, because at the end of the day, we are all human.

  6. Bailey

    I think that we should all consider ourself’s equal. Skin is just skin.

  7. Mariah

    I think that you guys rock.

leave a comment