Letter: Walter Block has made too many assumptions and contradictions


Dear Editors,

One of our goals as an academic institution is to encourage people to cultivate critical thinking.  You can imagine my dismay when reading the Sunday New York Times and I found remarks by Dr. Walter Block. 

 In the Jan. 25 article “Rand Paul’s Mixed Inheritance”, Dr. Block made two claims, one empirical and one conceptual, that are simply wrong.  First, he made the claim that chattel slavery “was not so bad.”  “Bad” is a comparative measure that, like every comparison, is understood in a contrast set. My initial question was where is the evidence?

Dr. Block makes an assertion but gives no evidence for his assertion.  Furthermore, it is also conceptually contradictory to his position as a libertarian that people could be treated as property against their will.  So, by even hinting to endorse slavery enforced against someone’s free will, Dr. Block seems to contradict his basic libertarian principles.

His second claim is an example of a fundamental logical mistake.  In peaking of discriminatory lunch counters, Dr. Block makes the mistake of assuming that because of the Civil Rights legislation people would be compelled to associate with others against their will. The Civil Rights legislation did no such thing. 

What the Civil Rights legislation did was prevent places like Woolworth’s from excluding people because of their race. No one was forced to sit at the lunch counter.  The law simply made clear that people could not be excluded from the lunch counter because of their race.

If these remarks were made in a paper for my class, I would return the paper with a failing grade. This is hardly critical thinking. Rather it is a position filled with assertions, without argument or evidence, to gain attention.

Sincerely yours,

Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D.