Why all the vacillation, here at Puritanical Libertarianism, between the moral–talk of virtue, righteousness, purity (cleanliness), and the economic–trade, profit, loss, wealth?
Because, the Puritanical Libertarian asserts the unity of reality and thinks he sees the same in the two spheres. It does not mean that he thinks the two spheres of equal weight. The “Puritanical” in his title comes first! It would be too cheap if “first” were merely taken as “being said first”. The deeper “first” is “first in importance”, “higher than”, ranking higher in nobility.
The argument for this hierarchical ranking is too easy. The premise can be found in my heart, and I bet yours. But the premise is also found in the studies of the troubles those who win lotteries run into, the troubles in what is problematically called “white” collar crime, the troubles found in Hollywood. That there is trouble where there is earthly prosperity is evidence of its insufficiency.
Is there trouble where there is virtue, purity or righteousness? No. These will enable the individual EITHER to endure earthly trouble well OR to preserve earthly prosperity well. So, they are higher in rank. Is there trouble around virtue, purity and righteousness? Sure, it is nearby. Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness! But that it is nearby is essentially different from the trouble that lies in earthly prosperity. The trouble near righteousness is accidental not essential. The trouble in earthly prosperity is not accidental. It is linked necessarily to the essential inadequacy of the rational animal. This anima is essential needy and so faces temptation around earthly prosperity in his inadequacy. Enough.
So, why the emphasis on liberty? Is Libertarian simply an emphasis on non-aggression and the abolition of non-competitive firms? Yes! But only in the pursuit of earthly goods? No! What I have found is that the deepest moral and material production depend on the protection and preservation of liberty. Non-aggression is a necessary principle for both the moral and material spheres. In both spheres the aggression can come from the other outside the producer or from the producer himself who can be at a time both potential producer and thief. Think of me when I stay up too late wasting time. I steal from the me who could be up early producing. The aggression is different but it is there nonetheless.
Is the justification for liberty merely a consequentialist justification? The results would be better? No. It of course is true that on-average and in the long run both moral and material prosperity are better under non-aggression and liberty. But, liberty is justified for far deeper reasons.
Liberty involves not being prevented by others (including the other me) from working with the materials THAT ARE YOURS. Liberty presupposes ownership. Please hear me out. It is ownership of YOURSELF (body, feeling, mind, energy, attention, effort, action) that makes possible production in either the moral or material sphere.
Liberty is both the presupposition and product of ownership. The only way to reach what is often called positive liberty (autonomy), is through negative liberty (being left alone). That minimal non-aggression of being left alone is only important because of the fundamental necessity of private property rights. Even when the negative liberty consisting of being left alone is limited through persecution I can only do anything productively in the middle of persecution to the degree I am left alone with my property. Even if in prison cell the prisoner must be left alone to breathe deeply and practice meditation.
The Puritanical Libertarian asserts ownership of a single living body and all that that entails. With that ownership right he aims to produce first virtue/righteousness/purity and then in addition earthly prosperity.
This is a part explanation of the vacillation between moral and material concern.