Defending the Undefendable
by Walter Block
Published in March 1976
Thibault’s Score: 4/5
I read this book many years ago in high school, and found it to be very interesting. I reread it with my girlfriend while listening to the audiobook on a road trip, and we found it to be educational and amusing.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Walter Block on several occasions, and have shared many great experiences with him.
Walter Block systematically defends a wide variety of professions commonly looked down upon in modern society from heroin dealers to prostitutes to capitalist pigs to crooked cops. He does a great job at systematically analyzing the following professions from a libertarian perspective with an attention to detail characteristic of autists. Each chapter covers a profession, and can be read without reference to any other chapters in this book.
Some of Walter Block’s defenses annoyed me a little bit because I thought he was ignoring key very convincing arguments. For example, on the chapters defending drug dealers prostitutes, he doesn’t include a preface clarifying that its possible to judge prostitution as immoral without wanting it to be illegal. For example, I personally find heroin dealers, heroin users, prostitutes, and the customers of prostitutes to be morally repugnant and socially undesirable. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that its best for me personally and society as a whole if these activities are legal, and kept behind closed doors out of my sight. There are no laws against cheating on one’s spouse, nor would it be desirable to enact laws against cheating on one’s spouse, however that behavior is rightfully viewed as socially unacceptable. There are ways of discouraging activities through non state means.
The author, Walter Block, doesn’t believe in intellectual property. As a result, readers can freely copy paste whatever they like out of this book and is it for their own ends. This makes Defending the Undefendable excellent for sending isolated chapters to convince family and friends about specific topics. For example, a good friend of mine thinks that drugs should be illegal, so I found the free version published online by the Mises Institute, and sent them the chapter in question.
Link to free online version which includes both the audiobook and full text:
I recommend this book to all highly argumentative libertarians.
One last side note: even though the book is available for free, I have heard that Dr. Walter Block is in a financially precarious situation. If you enjoy the book, please consider buying the audiobook on Audible of buying a physical copy on Amazon to support Dr. Block.
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