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By Goodman, Lenn Evan; Talisse, Robert B.; Aristotle

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An obvious problem involves threats from foreign enemies. A well-regulated militia might suffice for “the city of our prayers,” one with few enemies. But in the twenty-first century national defense can be provided only by government, and it is extremely expensive in a world plagued by belligerent states with large standing armies and weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, the recent rise in terrorism highlights the problem of controlling movements of personnel across national borders. The problem arises because defense is a public good: that is, everyone would benefit from it, but it cannot be withheld from just anyone selectively.

The perfect solution to the problem is animal rights: by aiming to help animals, one has a good beyond himself, but he can dictate a good to beings that cannot exercise autonomy or decline his assistance. This is an end that is larger than an individual end but does not impose itself on others. But, of course, it is confined to nonpersons. These characters, each cockeyed in his own way, exemplify the liberal state and what is wrong with it. They pursue their ends without being able to connect with others or work together on common ends.

But what does it mean to pursue the end of the liberal state? The liberal state does not really have its own end. It aims to allow individuals to pursue their ends. So in addition to whatever personal goals I have, I must foster the nonend of the state. Now all states must preserve themselves. If they allow certain behaviors, it is because they recognize them as either beneficial or nonthreatening. Behind the liberal state is the idea that individuals ought to make their own decisions autonomously, provided those decisions do not prevent others from making and acting on their own decisions.

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