NAP - Theory


This is where you should expect to find elaborations on various definitions, justifications, and forms of Non-Aggression Principle. Other matters of theory subordinate to theories of the NAP itself may also be collected here. Skip to the bottom of the page for links to essays concerned with NAP theory.

While most of us refer to "The NAP", or "The Non-Aggression Principle", the truth is that there are many non-aggression principles. They have in common that they all depend on some definitions of what constitutes "aggression", as mentioned on the homepage for this site, and ethically prohibit any acts that conform to such definitions. Any definitions that do not involve aggression being confined to cases of initiating whatever coercive acts qualify for "aggression" are generally outside the realm of qualification for the NAP as it is understood philosophically and politically, though some decidedly heterodox definitions may require absolute pacifism.

NAP Summaries

The following NAP formulations are simplified to get at the gist of their meanings and applications. Some details may be misrepresented in the interests of brevity, but not with any intent to mislead. These are distinct from justifications, which may come from a variety of philosophical sources such as rule utilitarianism, argumentation ethics (see Hoppe), natural rights theory (see Rothbard), various social contract mechanisms, and moral caution, among others.

The notion of a "victimless crime", or of a crime against oneself or against some collective entity (such as the state), is foreign to NAP theories in general, and attempts to formulate a non-aggression principle that incorporates such notions typically create internal ethical conflicts that render such formulations self-defeating. Some NAP theories are consistent with orthodox anarchocapitalism; others are consistent with certain market anarchist models of mutualism; still others are consistent with various forms of libertarian minarchism. Some fail to fit into such neat categories of political persuasion, but are not necessarily any less valid. Most of them imply an unethical character to intellectual property law, though some explicitly set out to support or repudiate it.

The range of possible forms and justifications of non-aggression principle is significant, but they all share something in common: they agree that, given some reasonable set of definitions, aggression is the central determinant of whether an act is unethical.


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