Timothy believes that “it is absolutely worth 600,000 deaths to have freed the slaves, and… it would be worth it at ten million times that price.”

Suppose the freeing of the slaves proceeded as follows. A single random slave is immediately freed. He is then drafted into the Union army, where he is killed in the process of freeing 2 more slaves.

These 2 slaves are similarly recruited, free 4 slaves, yet die in the attempt.

These 4 slaves then sacrifice their lives for the sake of freeing 8 more slaves.

You get the idea. Each freed slave is no longer a slave, and so his life in comparison with the burden of the still enslaved blacks comes to be of no value, according to Timothy.

Now 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + … = 2n – 1. Four million slaves were eventually freed. Hence for simplicity’s sake we stop at n = 21, wherein the total of 2,097,151 slaves are killed in order to free the final 2,097,152 slaves.

Surely, 2 million people are many fewer than 600,000 * 10 million. Would Timothy, our great Mikado, virtuous man, still argue that such a trade-off would be “worth it”?

Let me suggest that Timothy has taken libertarian abstraction to absurdity. He does not care about people, whether alive, dead, free, enslaved, but about the practice or institution of slavery. “Slavery” — an abstract term — is judged so evil that eliminating it is “worth” the suffering and murder of 6 trillion real living and breathing human beings, including — since that number is greater than the number of all the humans who ever lived — not only all the slaves themselves but our very author, Timothy Sandefur, as well.

In fact, an earth devoid of humans would lack slavery, too. Is that — annihilating all — how far Timothy would go to rid the cosmos of slavery?


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