Home » News » Scholars Go Head to Head in Libertarianism vs. Conservatism TFAS Debate

Scholars Go Head to Head in Libertarianism vs. Conservatism TFAS Debate

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In the true TFAS spirit of inspiring civil discourse and dialogue, TFAS hosted a lively “Libertarianism vs. Conservatism” debate on Thursday, Jan. 17, to explore the vital questions and contentious issues that can turn these sometimes-political allies into philosophical foes.

Dr. Nikolai Wenzel (right) shares his libertarian philosophy during the debate.

“In recent years, TFAS launched a free speech initiative, hosting lectures and events with a particular focus on the importance of one of America’s first freedoms,” remarked debate moderator and TFAS Director of International and Continuing Education Programs Brenda Hafera, as she opened the evening’s debate.

“We recognize the fundamental role of deliberation in a free society, allowing us to refine our views and alter them when we find we are in error,” she said. “At the same time, we hold that, as Thomas Jefferson said, ‘not every difference of opinion is a difference of principle,’ and so we can extend to our fellow citizens the courtesy of engaging in a civil manner.”

We recognize the fundamental role of deliberation in a free society, allowing us to refine our views and alter them when we find we are in error.” – Brenda Hafera, TFAS Director of International and Continuing Education Programs

TFAS alumna and Public Policy Fellow Melanie Benit (far left) asks a question during the Q&A session following the debate.

Representing the libertarian perspective was TFAS faculty member Dr. Nikolai Wenzel, economics professor at Fayetteville State University and co-author of the new book, “Selfish Libertarians and Socialist Conservatives?” Dr. David Azerrad, director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics and AWC Family Foundation Fellow Institute at The Heritage Foundation, defended the conservative viewpoint.

The two scholars faced off with compelling opening remarks, detailing the essential differences between the two perspectives.

Dr. David Azerrad defends his conservative viewpoint in his opening remarks.

More than 60 TFAS alumni, supporters and friends packed the house at TFAS Headquarters to hear the two spar. Following opening remarks, each debater had equal time to persuade the audience – and those watching online – that their viewpoint was superior.

Both gentlemen held their ground while answering tough questions on John Stuart Mill’s “Harm Principle,” government regulation in the free market and America’s immigration policy.

Wenzel’s libertarian viewpoint drew from Public Choice Theory and the Austrian School of Economics, while Azerrad’s viewpoint focused on the notion that republican self-government is rare, fragile and must be preserved for posterity.

Watch the full debate on Facebook live below:

 

Libertarianism vs. Conservatism Debate

Libertarians and conservatives have many shared values rooted in the American Founding, including free enterprise, individual liberty and limited government. However, their differing opinions on issues such as trade, social issues, drugs and border security have lead to sharp disagreements on issues making today’s headline news. Join us live on Thursday, Jan. 17 for a debate on the fundamental questions that turn these sometimes-political allies into philosophical foes.

Taking the libertarian perspective is TFAS faculty member Nikolai Wenzel, professor of economics at Fayetteville State University and co-author of the new book, “Selfish Libertarians and Socialist Conservatives?” David Azerrad, director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics and AWC Family Foundation Fellow Institute for Constitutional Government at The Heritage Foundation, will represent the conservative viewpoint. Azerrad recently reviewed “Selfish Libertarians and Socialist Conservatives?” for the Claremont Institute Review of Books.

Posted by The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) on Thursday, January 17, 2019

 

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