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Defending the Undefendable Paperback – May 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933550171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933550176
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #642,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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It's a very enjoyable reading, with very controversial topic and some strong arguments.
This book goes through most of the supposedly "undefendable" positions that Libertarians hold and, well, defends them!
This book only takes a couple days to read but I can promise that it is so irresistible it will be read more than once.
B. Armstrong

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In the classic Defending the Undefendable, Austrian School economist Dr. Walter Block makes both moral and utilitarian cases for completely laissez-faire capitalism -- no exceptions! The premise of the book is, if freedom to choose can be defended and even celebrated when it comes to the prostitute, the pimp, the drug user, and other social pariahs, then certainly that same freedom should be afforded to everyone else. These supposedly "undefendable" figures, Dr. Block shows, are not only "defendable" but actually heroic.

For example, the drug dealer: He is only providing a product that is in demand to a customer who demands it. It isn't the drugs themselves that promote crime, says Block (with supporting evidence included), but the high cost of the drugs -- and that high cost is a direct result of the drugs' prohibition. To the extent that the drug dealer braves the dangers of the black market to supply drugs to willing customers, he is putting downward pressure on the substances' prices, thereby reducing the likelihood of drug-related crimes against people and property. In this sense, the drug dealer is not only not a bad guy, but indeed a hero.

Libertarians are already very familiar with arguments (moral and utilitarian) for the legalization of drugs and prostitution. But what about blackmailers, slanderers, and libelers? Block takes up their cause. My favorite chapter features Block's analysis of "crooked" cops actually being superior to "honest" cops. After all, the crooked cop gives non-violent "criminals" (i.e. drug dealers, drug users, prostitutes, johns, etc.) the choice of paying a bribe or going to jail, while the honest cop gives them no such choice and instead kidnaps and confines them for their non-crimes.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By JJohnson on February 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
This work by Dr. Walter Block makes full use of applying the cornerstone of libertarian philosophy, the non-aggression axiom, to those who are viewed as the dregs of our society.
The author's introduction gives a quick summary of the libertarian view that as long as there is no initiation of aggression (violence, coercion, etc); anything we do amongst ourselves cannot be considered unjust. He applies this view to the profession of the prostitute, the oft-vilified drug user and drug pusher, the "typical" fat capitalist pig, and many others in a who's who of vile people, and shows through exemplary examples and illustrations how these people often end up contributing to society in ways that the public, which despises them most often, takes for granted and fails to notice.
The tone of this book is very fun to read, and the ease of it's use is reminiscent of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics, while it's philosophical insight and rigorous defense and application of the non-aggression axiom makes it seem almost as if it were an epilogue to The Ethics of Liberty, by Murray Rothbard.
I recommend this book to any student of economics, seeker of liberty, or any open minded individual ready to see the unseen, and maybe take up the case for defending the undefendable

I hope everyone appreciates the cheesy way I ended this review.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. W. Holtzapple on February 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this unique book, economics professor Walter Block defends people who follow controversial practices. Each chapter is devoted to a different type of person - most of whom the average American would consider the lowest of the low. Pimps, drug pushers, blackmailers, ticket scalpers, dishonest cops, slumlords, litterers, fat capitalist pigs, and child labor employers to name a few of the more than 30 practices discussed in this book.

After reading "Defending", one is not meant to come away with a new found appreciation for sex workers, outlaws or cheats, it is merely a book meant to make you think - and it does just that. It is meant to release you from the bonds of mainstream thinking and get you to open your mind and ask yourself, "why is this practice so bad?" It teaches you to think for yourself and how to stand up and defend your own positions. After reading this book I came away with a great respect for Dr. Block because through his book I had received a great lesson in critical thinking.

If you want to read an entertaining, politically incorrect book that really makes you open your mind, read "Defending the Undefendable" by Walter Block. Regardless of your opinion of the practices discussed within its pages you will find yourself enjoying its contents immensely.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Reeper on December 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
Definitely a book to challenge one's worldview either economically or ethically. One wonders if Walter Block is in the "nihilo" or "modal" libertarian category of which Murray N. Rothbard has written. Regardless, out of 33 chapters, I found only 5 arguments I believe to be unsound:

1. Denial of carte blanche abortion is denial of self ownership and a throwback to slavery for women,
2. The Judicial & Executive branches of any government are in the business of social justice, not legal justice,
3. Private charity perpetuates heritable characteristics that are undesirable,
4. Unborn children may be aborted because they are undeserving of the caretaking afforded born children,
5. Counterfeiting counterfeit money steals not from the merchant (as a consumer) when spent, but from the initial counterfeiter.

Regardless, Block has produced an effective primer that demonstrates why non-aggressive and non-violent "crimes" should be legalized. While they may be destructive to the individual, they are not destructive to society so long as they remain legal. In some cases, these "crimes" prove to improve materially the lot of some even if it does not improve their ethical lot. Nevertheless, it is the liberty of each to make the cost-benefit analysis for oneself.
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