Search results for the tag, "Letters to the Editor"

June 14th, 2009

Negligence and Compensation

A week ago, I sent a letter to the editor of the New York Times. Since it hasn’t been published yet, I’m free to publish it myself.

Ethicist Randy Cohen argues that Natalie, who broke her friend’s hard drive when she tripped over its cable, need not compensate her friend (Magazine, June 2). “To leave the house is to accept some risks,” Cohen concludes.

Yet we never learn whether Natalie was negligent in tripping or whether the friend was negligent in setting up the cable. The answer is crucial, since negligence—as Cohen himself acknowledges in the same column—ought to determine compensation (or lack thereof).

Just as accidents happen, so we need not exonerate carelessness.

April 9th, 2005

The Morning-after Pill and Property Rights

Morning-After Pill

Here’s a letter I recently wrote to the New York Times. Since it hasn’t run yet, I figure it’s safe to publish it myself.

The New York Times editorial board says it’s “intolerable” that anti-abortion pharmacists refuse to dispense birth control pills. I am as staunch a supporter of abortion rights as they come, but for the same reason I equally champion property rights: both represent the inalienable right of human autonomy. Just as no one should tell a woman how to dispose of her body, so no one should tell a businessman how to conduct his practice.

If one of his employees disagrees, that is between employee and employer, and if necessary, a court, to determine if a contract was breached. If outsiders disagree, we can disseminate local lists of where not to shop, and are perfectly free to shop elsewhere ourselves. The answer is not legislation, forcing our morals on others, but patronage, noncoercively using our principles to induce change.

Addendum (4/29/05): See this debate between David Boaz, Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute, and Judy Waxman, Vice President and Director of Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women’s Law Center.