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Defending the Undefendable
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Defending the Undefendable

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  986 ratings  ·  76 reviews
American Studies, Social Studies
Paperback, 232 pages
Published June 1st 1991 by Fox & Wilkes (first published 1976)
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  986 ratings  ·  76 reviews

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Oct 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2non-fiction, 1paper
In the first couple of sections, Sexual & Medical, he presents some good arguments in favor of less government interference & that's not surprising, given his Libertarian stance that he warns about in the introduction. His arguments are somewhat thin, but not too bad.

I found that the third section on free speech lost some cohesiveness of argument. His arguments for not regulating blackmail, slander & libel were very thin. His comparisons against 'academic freedom' aren't particularly
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked the book in its entirety for making clear arguments that fly in the face of many dogmatic popular stances on controversial topics such as drugs, prostitution, profit making, rate busting, child labor, litter, slander,..

When libertarian ideas taken to their logical conclusions, these fields in human conduct should be inquired upon, and Block does a great job doing this.

One point of disagreement I have, is his stance towards children and parenting. In the last chapter of the book he says t
Void lon iXaarii
May 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
While undoubtedly the author is very smart I'm afraid he defends for the sake of defending, as opposed to being fair and trying to get to the bottom of truths. His effort and verbal skills are still appreciated but while they do have some good points I saw also some slight of hand type things.
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will work on review!
Dave Maddock
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: paleolibertarians too lazy to read Rothbard
Shelves: audio, economics
I'm familiar with Walter Block from Mises Institute-sponsored lectures on their YouTube channel. I like him and agree with many of his arguments, which makes negatively reviewing this book something of an unpleasant chore.

For starters, the tone of this book reinforces every libertarian stereotype out there: brash, pedantically argumentative, overly-theoretical, and absolutist. Personally, I like these traits in people, but they are wholly counter-productive in the kind of "apology" literature th
In Defending the Undefendable, Walter Block takes on the laudable task of defending libertarianism from moral panic and sentimentalism. Arguments like: Without the state, who will kick prostitutes off the streets? What about loan sharks or evil landlords? That kind of thing. Blocks counter-argumentation in this book, as per the title, is to show the good sides of things like loan sharking and blackmail. Sometimes, he's very compelling, as when he says that the reason why loan sharks demand such ...more
Tim Ralston
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Now, this is an amazing book. Let's be clear about the full title: "Defending the Undefendable: The pimp, prostitute, scab, slumlord, libeler, moneylender and other scapegoats in the rogue's gallery of American society." Walter Block gives very compelling (potentially world-view challenging) arguments for the legalization of everything a social conservative and bleeding-heart liberal would faint over. He does so by devoting a chapter to each "villain" of modern-day society, such as the "drug lor ...more
Daniel Moss
Sometimes this is a book defending certain norms (e.g., property rights) and other times this is a book defending certain unsavory people (e.g., the pimp), but always this is a book defending liberty, not libertinism.

Some of the characters in this book are people that do some pretty immoral things (like the aforementioned pimp) and other characters are people who are just completely misunderstood (the lender). With regard to the latter, Block is simply shedding light on the necessary function th
Ryan Lackey
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These are the party-line libertarian arguments against banning various kinds of "bad" activities; basically arguing that anything which isn't a violation of the non-aggression principle and property rights shouldn't be prohibited by government. The problem is that it doesn't argue that these bad things are "good", only that banning them is "bad", and a lot of people don't accept this argument.

To many people, government banning "bad" things is desirable. To a smaller number of people, it's still
Shhhhh Ahhhhh
Mar 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book was so bad, it inspired me to institute a new way of taking notes so that I could collect the material that I knew I was going to post on this 1-star review.

Blocks 2 biggest enemies are evidence-based theory and probabilistics.

Let me start off my saying that I'm heavily biased against libertarians and libertarian viewpoints. I have many objections to it on the basis both of theoretical flaws, observation of common deficiencies among its adherents and fault with it's its distribution m
Петър Стойков
Сводник, проститутка, клеветник, лихвар, спекулант – все презрени от обществото, и в много случаи незаконни професии, обект на непрестанно заклеймяване от страна на медии, политици, общественици. Приликата между тях? Те не вредят на никого, а дори напротив – помагат на обществото…

Човешките права произхождат от английското обичайно право (common law) и най-просто могат да се сведат до това, че човек сам притежава себе си, собственото си тяло и мисъл, както и плодовете на своя труд, и е свободен в
This book explains exactly why I can't just dive into the deep end of libertarian ideology. It is only a materialistic theory it can't account for anything beyond economics (and it is the best economic theory out there). It is libertarianism's ideological consistency that makes it so appealing, but also so disconcerting to most moderates.
Yes, it is true that prostitution is a transaction between consenting adults, but are there not other consequences besides economic outcomes?
Maybe, just maybe,
Mar 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written for logical people. People who use critical thinking skills. It is not for the person that allows emotions to cloud their judgement. Walter Block clearly defines the libertarian ethos, although they are not necessarily followed at all times during this book. Those weak at heart or stomach need not apply. I am not saying that all the actions in this book are agreeable to my interpretation of morality, but it is just that, 'MY INTERPRETATION' of it and who am I to use force t ...more
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it book, and there is ample reasoning for both sides. I think that may be the point--that by taking outrageous positions, the author forces us to think through our automatic biases and keeps us reading long enough to explain several points. Some of the positions taken seem, in fact, little more than introductions to the libertarian point the author really wants to explain. So I do see some point in the book as a whole, and there are germs of truth in pretty muc ...more
Apr 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, liberty, heresy
I listened to this via Mises Institute podcasts a few years ago. Give this book to someone if you want to make sure they never become a Libertarian. By and large, Block is right in his defense of these unpopular/politically incorrect roles. However, I get a bit of the vibe that he is being politically incorrect for the sake of being politically incorrect. Block is just such a provocateur, this is his shtick, you have to expect it out of him. Also, if you already have a passing familiarity with b ...more
Mar 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: libertarianism
This is a great little book that's easy to read and will challenge some widely held beliefs, particularly among common folk who don't think much on these kinds of issues and accept what conventional wisdom states.

While I agree with nearly all of his stances, a few of them I didn't feel he made the case sufficiently, or sometimes didn't adequately convey that he was defending an extreme based on his theory of rights rather than morality. I'm afraid people might, for example, read a portion of the
Dec 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This book makes your head spin (just like "The Ethics of Liberty"). It argues in favor of "all consentual transactions and against all unconsentual transactions".

For those trying to figure out where the proper role of government is and is not, and what the moral basis of a free society is, this is an important book to consider.

I can't say more than that because I am still thinking it about it.
Stefan Matias
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating work. Walter Block is an exceptionally creative thinker and a good writer, and in this book, ventures to dispell some common myths about a bunch of different condemned professions and activities. From before, I already agreed with most of his points, but on a couple of them I got a whole new perspective on things, such as:

- Defending freedom of speech from the argument of the person "shouting fire in a crowded theater", which is mentioned today even by those proclaiming to be the ad
Don Lim
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When reading this book, one must bear in mind the two central theme in libertarian thought: voluntary action and restrictions on the initiation of violence. Now, I would not go so far as to label the pimps, prostitutes, misers, or the many other occupants as heroes, as Block does, since most of these individuals are under the same incentives as the rest of us--even if these roles are ostracized in society. However, the book does make logical arguments for the greater good of these roles, and som ...more
Jairo Fraga
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Block intenta neste livro defender posições sociais usualmente moralmente deploráveis, como a prostituição, tráfico de drogas, etc, enquanto práticas injustamente taxadas como ilegais pela ética libertária. Mostra um lado mais moral de tudo isso.

Começa bem com suas assertivas, mas desliza no tema do aborto, tal como Rothbard, em esquecer do papel de tutela da mãe em relação à criança ou feto, ignorando o direito de propriedade alheio e incorrendo em homicídio, clara iniciação de agressão contra
Adrian Dorney
I picked up this book at the Mises event in New York City where I met Dr Block and got him to sign my copy. The fact that it took me over two weeks to finish it, I think, says more about him than it does me. To preface, I respect Dr Block and appreciate his contributions to the Austrian school, and I think the format of this book was well intentioned. That said, I felt this book was better suited for leftists in the 1970s who had no concept of a free economy, let alone a private law society.

Sylvester Kuo
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is Dr. Walter Block's magnum opus, a thought provoking title like this makes you want to pick it up and find out more. Defending the Undefendable is his defence for the most vulnerable in the society, namely those who are misunderstood by the common misconceptions to be immoral and evil. He took a realist view of these apparently "immoral people" (e.g. Pimps, drug dealers, blackmailers, ticket scalpesr, misers, moneylenders, non-contributors to charity, ghetto merchants, speculators, scabs, ...more
Pier Francesco Berardinelli
Secondo le stesse parole di Walter Block, «la vocazione di questo libro è il libertarismo. La premessa di questa filosofia è la seguente: è illegittimo intraprendere aggressioni contro dei non-aggressori».
Nel suo scritto, l’autore passa in rassegna alcuni “nemici dell’umanità” – dallo spacciatore al ricattatore, passando per la prostituta, il bagarino, il presta-denaro e tanti altri –, difendendo, con logica stringente, l’assioma di non aggressione alla base della filosofia libertaria.
Il lettore
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This could perhaps serve as an introductory guide to libertarian thinking as Block takes a number of 'characters' (e.g. The Advertiser, The Ghetto Merchant, The Pimp) and consideres their roles from a libertarian perspective. He shows how some of these have a bad reputation due to other 'societal' problems, bad economic thinking or perhaps simply by mistake. You'd have to be pretty hard core libertarian to go along with all his conclusion, but regardless it is always fun to read someone with a d ...more
Hattas Martin
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kniha objasňuje čitateľovi rôzne ekonomické predsudky ktoré sa v mysliach ľudí udomácnili. Snaží sa obhájiť slobodný trh a vymaniť sa z regulácii, ktoré sú v súčasnosti veľmi obľúbené. Základný filozofický princíp je pochopiteľne libertarianizmus, ktorí zdôrazňujú individualizmus odrážajúci sa v osobnej i ekonomickej slobode. Český preklad je voľne k stiahnutiu
Anton Potapenko
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Книга такой себе тест для тех, кто искренне считает себя либертарианцем. Отвергая оценочное суждение насчет таких агентов рынка как спекулянты, проститутки и наркоторговцы, а также детского труда и других явлений, автор провозглашает добровольный обмен как высшую благодетель свободного общества. Т.е по сути описывается либертарианский мир каков он должен быть в идеале. Если есть свободный обмен, то любое посягательство на него (под любым, даже благовидным предлогом) недопустимо.
Teemu Suoranta
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: should-read-once
I was expecting a moral philosophy but the reasoning was for the most part based on capitalism and libertarism. Having recently read Thomas Showell's "Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy" this book put the principles from Showell's book into action.
Shane Hawk
Provocative for being written in the seventies. Even in 2018 some of his defenses make me cringe and launch into deeper thought. My cognitive dissonance was firing on all cylinders at moments. Worth the read if only to challenge your thinking.
Skylar Burris
I’ve heard all of the economic arguments made in this book before, and I have in fact heard even better ones. The only thing new is the author’s sensationalist approach to the topics. I have often said that I “lean libertarian,” but this book reminded me of why I don’t fall over. It certainly didn’t lean me farther over into the libertarian camp, and, if anything, it straightened me up a little.

While I can buy many of the economic and political arguments made in this book, I cannot buy most of
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Walter Block earned his PhD in Economics at Columbia University. He is an author, editor, and co-editor of many books which include Defending the Undefendable; Lexicon of Economic Thought, Economic Freedom of the World 1975-1995; Rent Control: Myths and Realities; Discrimination, Affirmative Action, and Equal Opportunity; Theology, Third Word Development and Economic Justice; Man, Economy, and Lib ...more