The mother of all book reviews

A book review? Or a book itself? Andy Duncan of Samizdata has posted the mother of all book reviews on The Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman. Combining a sharp wit, pop culture references, colorful metaphors, and penetrating humor, Andy takes us through the various portions of Friedman's magnus opus, and tells how it contrasts with Hoppe's Democracy: The God that Failed.

Even as someone who has been influenced largely by the ideas of Mises and Rothbard, I enjoyed reading Machinery immensely. Friedman starts off with very basic mainstream ideas that any small government advocate can empathize with, and slowly but surely delves further and further into more radical subjects. The transition is almost seamless, creating a low-grade entry ramp into radical libertarianism rather than a vertical cliff to climb. His style is very skeptical and self-questioning. He tells you honestly, "This is what I think should happen. I'm not 100% certain I have all the answers, but this is where we've been, and this is where we ought to go to make a better world."

At the end of the review, Andy asks, "So, finally, is David Friedman a radical capitalist or a utilitarian apologist?"

I would say he is neither; rather Friedman plays perhaps the most underrated of all roles: the intuitional skeptic.

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Follow-up: here.

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I can safely say that The

I can safely say that The Machinery of Freedom has influenced my thinking more so than any other book I've ever read, and for that matter, David Friedman has influenced my thinking more so than any other person. Although I still cling to a rights-based approach on occasion, I've been trying to shift my focus to consequentialist arguments ever since I started reading Friedman's work.

I believe he is currently working on a fictional piece set in medieval times. It will be interesting to see if he can write fiction as well as he can write economics.

Why should a rights-based

Why should a rights-based approach be at odds with consequentialist arguments? I do not think it is surprising, or a coincidence, that what is right (i.e. respect for individuals) should result in what is good (i.e. prosperity).

Virginia, That's actually a

Virginia,

That's actually a really important question that has been troubling libertarian academics and philosophers in general for years.

There a few issues at stake. First, which do we value more: rights or outcomes? We can easily construct hypotheticals where the two conflict. For example, would we be willing to steal one penny from Bill Gates in order to make the entire world significantly better off? Would we be willing to cause the death of one innocent person in order to save the lives of millions? Most of us would be willing to commit these acts.

However, if we only care about consequences, then libertarianism is a hard sell. Economists can always come up with areas where the government can intervene and seemingly improve the welfare of society. The only response libertarians have to this is skepticism: based on the past failures of government, we should be skeptical that they will be able to make some things better without making others much worse. But this is a much weaker argument than being able to claim beforehand that the government will necessarily fail or that its intervention is necessarily immoral.

I take a more pragmatic approach. Arguing libertarianism from a moral or ethical approach does not work very well when most people do not share a libertarian ethical system. Although we can try to change their ethical outlook (which is one of our goals at Catallarchy), it seems more likely that non-libertarians will be more receptive to consequentialist, economic arguments.

If you are interested in this debate, here are a few good articles about the issue:

"What's Wrong With Libertarianism," by Jeffrey Friedman from Critical Review, Vol. 11, No. 3. (Summer 1997)[PDF, 61 pp. 10.4Mb]

"What's Not Wrong With Libertarianism: Reply to Friedman," by Tom Palmer from Critical Review, Vol. 12, No. 3. (Summer 1998) [PDF, 22 pp. 22.8Mb]

"A Positive Account of Property Rights," by David Friedman from Social Philosophy and Policy 11 No. 2 (Summer 1994) pp. 1-16.

There a few issues at stake.

There a few issues at stake. First, which do we value more: rights or outcomes? We can easily construct hypotheticals where the two conflict. For example, would we be willing to steal one penny from Bill Gates in order to make the entire world significantly better off? Would we be willing to cause the death of one innocent person in order to save the lives of millions? Most of us would be willing to commit these acts.

What situation exists that taking a quantity of money from a person who has earned great wealth can produce greater collective good? What situation exists that the death of an innocent can save millions? The obvious answer is some "public goods" case, but I have yet to find a true public good, the usual cases are in actuality private goods and public bads.

I agree with Virginia on this, utility and rights go hand in hand.

For me, I came to the anarchist position by independently coming to the inherent immorality of government, but was left with "but how do we practically deal with...". Machinery of Freedom gave me the tools for coming to grips with the practical issues.

However, if we only care

However, if we only care about consequences, then libertarianism is a hard sell. Economists can always come up with areas where the government can intervene and seemingly improve the welfare of society. The only response libertarians have to this is skepticism: based on the past failures of government, we should be skeptical that they will be able to make some things better without making others much worse. But this is a much weaker argument than being able to claim beforehand that the government will necessarily fail or that its intervention is necessarily immoral.

There is another response that libertarians can give that you likely disagree with: that utility cannot be compared across people, and that only through voluntary interactions can a person attempt to increase his own state of satisfaction. This way, natural rights are linked with individually defined consequentialist outcomes.

I take a more pragmatic approach. Arguing libertarianism from a moral or ethical approach does not work very well when most people do not share a libertarian ethical system. Although we can try to change their ethical outlook (which is one of our goals at Catallarchy), it seems more likely that non-libertarians will be more receptive to consequentialist, economic arguments.

I disagree. In my experience, arguing from an ethical perspective resonates with people on the "right" whereas arguing from a consequentialist perspective resonates with people on the "left".

David and Jonathan, Perhaps

David and Jonathan,

Perhaps you should read Machinery of Freedom a bit more thouroughly, especially Chapter 41, which is available online. In it, Friedman constructs various hypothetical situations where reasonable consequentialism conflicts with libertarian ethics (i.e. natural rights).

An except:

I could continue with a wide range of other problems for which the natural rights approach to libertarianism offers, so far as I can tell, no solution. I would prefer instead to suggest a different criticism of that approach. Even if we ignore situations that involve vanishingly small rights violations, the usual statements of libertarian principle imply conclusions that almost nobody, libertarian or otherwise, believes in.

Consider the following example. A madman is about to open fire on a crowd; if he does so numerous innocent people will die. The only way to prevent him is to shoot him with a rifle that is within reach of several members of the crowd. The rifle is on the private property of its legitimate owner. He is a well known misanthrope who has publicly stated on numerous occasions that he is opposed to letting anyone use his rifle without his permission, even if it would save hundreds of lives.

Two questions now arise. The first is whether members of the crowd have a right to take the rifle and use it to shoot the madman. The answer of libertarian rights theory, as I understand it, is no. The owner of the rifle is not responsible for the existence of the madman, and the fact that his rifle is, temporarily, of enormous value to other people does not give them a right to take it.

The second question is whether it is desirable that someone take the rifle and use it to shoot the madman--whether, to put it more personally, I wish that someone do so, or whether I would rather see the members of the crowd stand there and be shot down. The answer to this question seems equally unambiguous. If someone takes the rifle, there is a relatively minor violation of the legitimate rights of its owner; if no one does, there is a major violation of the legitimate rights (not to be killed) of a large number of victims--plus a substantial cost in human life and human pain. If asked which of these outcomes I would prefer to see, the answer is obviously the first.

Also read his theoretical defense of the draft. These are questions that libertarians cannot ignore; we often look silly when we do.

There is another response that libertarians can give that you likely disagree with: that utility cannot be compared across people, and that only through voluntary interactions can a person attempt to increase his own state of satisfaction.

Even if we concede the Austrian criticisms of neoclassical utility aggregration, the national defense example rebuts this libertarian position. We can easily imagine a situation where large scale national defense is necessary in order to defend against a significant foreign threat, and where voluntary contributions to the military will not be sufficient to protect ourselves. Perhaps this would not be the case in an entirely anarchist world, but in case you haven't noticed, that is not the world in which we currently live.

In my experience, arguing from an ethical perspective resonates with people on the "right" whereas arguing from a consequentialist perspective resonates with people on the "left".

I've had similar experiences, but even with conservatives, the ethical arguments only go so far: I have never seen a conservative fully concede the non-coercion principle to the point that they were willing to accept anarcho-capitalism.

Perhaps you should read

Perhaps you should read Machinery of Freedom a bit more thouroughly, especially Chapter 41, which is available online. In it, Friedman constructs various hypothetical situations where reasonable consequentialism conflicts with libertarian ethics (i.e. natural rights).

I have read it very thoroughly. My response to you was along the lines of "how to sell libertarianism" to the average joe, and which arguments resonate. I did not realize we were having a philosophical argument found in Machinery. I do believe that in general, the right is linked with the good, and that natural rights is linked with consequentialism. Natural rights are indirectly utilitarian. And this general relationship can be sold to the average joe. I know Friedman has talked about this link before, although I cannot locate it online. It may have been in a Usenet post.

Of course, one can always create a hypothetical situation involving a Spaceship Aiming a Laser at New York City with the trigger button dependent on some gruesome violation of one person's rights by another. Do I have an answer as to how I can justifiably argue that those violations should occur to save the 8 million people of NYC? No.

In the limit, no moral philosophy is perfect. That does not mean that the notion of rights is completely false. The same limit exists for utilitarianism.

Intuitively, I reject utilitarianism in the limit as arrogant (one person deciding for others what is "good"), immoral (I do believe in the sanctity of the individual), biased towards central planners, and historically impractical (massacres have occurred when the right was sacrificed for the good much more often than vice versa).

Also read his theoretical defense of the draft. These are questions that libertarians cannot ignore; we often look silly when we do.

I am not ignoring them. I praise Friedman for *precisely* this reason, for bringing up these tough questions, when I exalt him as an "intuitional skeptic".

Even if we concede the Austrian criticisms of neoclassical utility aggregration, the national defense example rebuts this libertarian position. We can easily imagine a situation where large scale national defense is necessary in order to defend against a significant foreign threat, and where voluntary contributions to the military will not be sufficient to protect ourselves. Perhaps this would not be the case in an entirely anarchist world, but in case you haven't noticed, that is not the world in which we currently live.

I notice it everyday. I would rather look for solutions to public goods problems (which are definitely not unsurmountable) rather than 'settle' for the notion that some degree of rights must always be violated.

I've had similar experiences, but even with conservatives, the ethical arguments only go so far: I have never seen a conservative fully concede the non-coercion principle to the point that they were willing to accept anarcho-capitalism.

I don't think the entire process can rely on acception of the non-coercion principle, but pointing out basic things like involuntary associations are by definition theft no matter what clothes the aggressor wears can be a foot in the door to at least open some eyes. After that it's up to them. I was basically a conservative who is close to accepting the anarcho-capitalist position, and the non-coercion principle had a lot to do with it, although I had to get past the "Who will regulate drugs without the FDA?" consequentialist arguments, too.

I know Friedman has talked

I know Friedman has talked about this link before, although I cannot locate it online. It may have been in a Usenet post.

He discusses the link in depth in the article I mentioned previously in this thread to Virginia, "A Positive Account of Property Rights."

I would rather look for solutions to public goods problems (which are definitely not unsurmountable) rather than 'settle' for the notion that some degree of rights must always be violated.

As would I. However, it's important to keep in mind that, at least in my opinion and the opinion of people like David and Jeffrey Friedman (no relation), libertarianism does not has a foolproof argument against any and all proposed government interventions. The natural rights position has holes, and the consequentialist position cannot guarantee results prior to the event. The best we can do is emphasise the numerous failures of government intervention in the past, and use this is justification for extreme skepticism about proposals for government intervention in the future.

Consider the following

Consider the following example. A madman is about to open fire on a crowd; if he does so numerous innocent people will die. The only way to prevent him is to shoot him with a rifle that is within reach of several members of the crowd. The rifle is on the private property of its legitimate owner. He is a well known misanthrope who has publicly stated on numerous occasions that he is opposed to letting anyone use his rifle without his permission, even if it would save hundreds of lives.

If this is a free society then I pull out my 1911A1 and proceed to inject lead into the perp. Or we can assume that this is not a rights based society and thus I am not carrying, but we will apply a rights based approach anyway, thus - no one has a "right" to take the gun, however, I do while acknowledging that I have violated his rights and owe the gun owner full restitution.

The problem with these scenarios is that one must assume either an unlikely scenario (no one is armed in a society where self-protection is expected?) or we assume such rights violations that a rights based approach becomes meaningless.

I am currently refining my arguments on what I consider the legitimate problems of "national" defense and law. I have yet to read it, but I have Hoppe's Myth of National Defense. According to the cover blurbs and intro, the problems of national defense are not really problems at all.

Consider the following

Consider the following example. A madman is about to open fire on a crowd...

Okay, scroll up an re-read it if you like.

I think the key to this question is that in a society with total individual freedom there must necessarily be total individual responsibility. Grabbing the rifle and shooting the madman violates the property rights of the owner of the rifle. He may justly (though perhaps not reasonably) demand compensation for this trespass. Whichever individual in the crowd seizes the rifle and shoots the madman would be fully responsible for the consequences of "stealing" the rifle. This in no way diminishes the positive consequences of the rifle-seizers' action, assuming he does stop the madman and save the nice people.

So mean Mr. Anti-Social Rifle Owner takes lovely Mr. Life-Saving Rifle Seizer to arbitration, and is awarded...what? Can you imagine any sane arbitrator awarding damages in excess of, say, double the cost of replacing the rifle plus court costs? I can imagine members of the crowd saved from bloody death happily contributing the the cost of the fine.

The same goes for the one where your house is on fire and you need to drag a hose across your mean anti-social neighbor's yard to put the fire out. Is it likely that your flaming house is of less value than the maximum possible compensation due from you for the trespass you commit while fighting the fire? The key is that your need in now way absolves you of your responsibility.

Now someone is going to post, "Well then, rich people could commit a bunch of crimes and then just pay compensation for it!"

Yeah? Maybe. So?

Damn you, David Masten for

Damn you, David Masten for posting 3 minutes before me! Damn you to hell!

Damn you, David Masten for

Damn you, David Masten for posting 3 minutes before me! Damn you to hell!

Sorry. Well, no I'm actually not sorry. :-)

Great minds think alike, eh?

David, Sure, these

David,

Sure, these scenarios, as constructed, are unlikely, but the point is, we can think of many types of situations where most reasonable people, including libertarians, would be willing to violate natural rights because of what we believe to be good consequences. The stronger point in Friedman's critique is that private property rights are not as clean cut as we would like to think, but the hypothetical situations are also important, at least to me, and demonstrate that natural rights arguments are less desireable than utilitarian arguments.

Virginia, I think the point Friedman is trying to make is that in these types of cases, we value certain consequences and are willing to violate natural rights in order to achieve these consequences. The fact that a libertarian legal system would be able to deal with these cases is besides the point - the point is whether consequentialism or natural rights is ultimately guiding our views.

...[T]he point is whether

...[T]he point is whether consequentialism or natural rights is ultimately guiding our views.

Both.

It's not a puzzling dilemma, it's cost-benfit analysis. Both rights and consequences, both liberty and responsibility, are factors of praxis. There's no "whether". These questions can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, by asking What would I do?

The stronger point in

The stronger point in Friedman's critique is that private property rights are not as clean cut as we would like to think, but the hypothetical situations are also important, at least to me, and demonstrate that natural rights arguments are less desireable than utilitarian arguments.

Why? To me, neither one alone is sufficient, but utilitarian arguements are weaker than natural rights arguments.

Virginia, I think the point

Virginia, I think the point Friedman is trying to make is that in these types of cases, we value certain consequences and are willing to violate natural rights in order to achieve these consequences. The fact that a libertarian legal system would be able to deal with these cases is besides the point - the point is whether consequentialism or natural rights is ultimately guiding our views.

I don't agree. The fact that the gun-grabber owes restitution in such a legal system means that the natural rights of the gun-owner were violated. The argument rests on the idea that the gun-owner has rights.

Jonathan, The reason I think

Jonathan,

The reason I think natural rights arguments are less desireable than utilitarian arguments is because I do not believe that Hume's "Is-Ought" gap can be bridged; that is, I do not believe that we can derive objective moral values from the facts of the natural world. We can certainly use our intuitions, and we can try to influence and change other people's intuitions (primarily by showing them how some intuitions conflict with others and taking intuitions to their logical conclusions), but the fact remains that at the end of the day, intuitions are simply opinions, socially constructed, and can differ from person to person and from culture to culture. This is not to say that I believe morality is relative - I don't - nor am I claiming that all cultures are equally worthy of respect. However, in terms of the usefulness of moral arguments, I don't think they help much because most people don't speak the same moral language. Consequentialism seems to be more universal and relies less upon intuition.

The fact that the gun-grabber owes restitution in such a legal system means that the natural rights of the gun-owner were violated. The argument rests on the idea that the gun-owner has rights.

It certainly does, but what does it say about your conception of rights that you would advocate (as most people would) a violation of rights in that case?

...[W]hat does it say about

...[W]hat does it say about your conception of rights that you would advocate (as most people would) a violation of rights in that case?

Saying that one would commit a particular rights-violation in a particular situation is not the same thing as saying that it would be right to commit that trespass. It is always wrong for the gun-grabber to take the rifle--that is why the owner is owed restitution.

I guess I just don't understand your objection.

Virginia, Again, read what

Virginia,

Again, read what Friedman originally wrote in the chapter I cited previously. He continues,

While not in any strict sense paradoxical, the result is, at least to me, an uncomfortable one. It puts me in the position of saying that I very much hope someone grabs the gun, but that I disapprove of whoever does so.

One solution to this problem is to reject the idea that natural rights are absolute; potential victims have the right to commit a minor rights violation, compensating the owner of the gun afterwards to the best of their ability, in order to prevent a major one. Another is to claim that natural rights are convenient rules of thumb which correctly describe how one should act under most circumstances, but that in sufficiently unusual situations one must abandon the general rules and make decisions in terms of the ultimate objectives which the rules were intended to achieve. A third response is to assert that the situation I have described cannot occur, that there is some natural law guaranteeing that rights violations will always have bad consequences and that committing one rights violation can never decrease the total of rights violations.

All of these positions lead to the same conclusion. Under some circumstances rights violations must be evaluated on their merits, rather than rejected a priori on conventional libertarian natural rights grounds. Those who believe that rights violations are always undesirable will be sure that the result of the evaluation will be to reject the violation, but that does not mean that they can reject arguments to the contrary without first answering them. Any such argument claims to provide a counterexample to their general theorem, and if one such counterexample is true the general theorem must be false.

It puts me in the position

It puts me in the position of saying that I very much hope someone grabs the gun, but that I disapprove of whoever does so.

I don't see how this follows. One can sincerely acknowledge that a violation of rights has occurred without necessarily disapproving of the actor.

One solution to this problem is to reject the idea that natural rights are absolute; potential victims have the right to commit a minor rights violation, compensating the owner of the gun afterwards to the best of their ability, in order to prevent a major one.

Hell no, they don't have a right to grab the gun, but if to do so anyway, they must take responsibility for the action. The fact that, in Friedman's formulation, the gun-grabber owes compensation to the owner of the gun implicitly denies that any such right exists. If the gun-grabber were somehow magically extended the right to grab the gun, there would be no trespass, and so no requirement for compensation, would there?

Another is to claim that natural rights are convenient rules of thumb which correctly describe how one should act under most circumstances, but that in sufficiently unusual situations one must abandon the general rules and make decisions in terms of the ultimate objectives which the rules were intended to achieve.

I cannot see how the fact that a normally rights-respecting person might choose to violate individual rights in given bizarre situation relegates individual rights to the status of "rules of thumb". Responsibility always balances out the other side of the equation.

A third response is to assert that the situation I have described cannot occur, that there is some natural law guaranteeing that rights violations will always have bad consequences and that committing one rights violation can never decrease the total of rights violations.

It is true that the lives saved by the gun-grabber in no way reduce the magnitude of the trespass against the gun owner. The gun owner can never recover those moments in time when the enjoyment of his property in his rifle was violated by the gun grabber stealing it. He'll never get those bullets back, either. And the wear and tear on his rifle is irreversible! The rights violation *will* have a bad consequence--the gun-grabber will have to pay for it. By the same token, these facts in no way diminish the high value of act of saving those lives by killing the madman.

Those who believe that rights violations are always undesirable will be sure that the result of the evaluation will be to reject the violation, but that does not mean that they can reject arguments to the contrary without first answering them.

Rights violations are always undesirable--to the individual being violated.

Any such argument claims to provide a counterexample to their general theorem, and if one such counterexample is true the general theorem must be false.

I disagree. Just because a person might choose to violate individual rights in a given situation does not mean that individual rights do not exist.

In the real world, someone would grab the gun, and the gun owner would be owed compensation. But we wouldn't have this problem in the first place if the gun owner weren't such a dick.

It puts me in the position

It puts me in the position of saying that I very much hope someone grabs the gun, but that I disapprove of whoever does so.

I don't see how this follows. One can sincerely acknowledge that a violation of rights has occurred without necessarily disapproving of the actor.

One solution to this problem is to reject the idea that natural rights are absolute; potential victims have the right to commit a minor rights violation, compensating the owner of the gun afterwards to the best of their ability, in order to prevent a major one.

Hell no, they don't have a right to grab the gun, but if to do so anyway, they must take responsibility for the action. The fact that, in Friedman's formulation, the gun-grabber owes compensation to the owner of the gun implicitly denies that any such right exists. If the gun-grabber were somehow magically extended the right to grab the gun, there would be no trespass, and so no requirement for compensation, would there?

Another is to claim that natural rights are convenient rules of thumb which correctly describe how one should act under most circumstances, but that in sufficiently unusual situations one must abandon the general rules and make decisions in terms of the ultimate objectives which the rules were intended to achieve.

I cannot see how the fact that a normally rights-respecting person might choose to violate individual rights in given bizarre situation relegates individual rights to the status of "rules of thumb". Responsibility always balances out the other side of the equation.

A third response is to assert that the situation I have described cannot occur, that there is some natural law guaranteeing that rights violations will always have bad consequences and that committing one rights violation can never decrease the total of rights violations.

It is true that the lives saved by the gun-grabber in no way reduce the magnitude of the trespass against the gun owner. The gun owner can never recover those moments in time when the enjoyment of his property in his rifle was violated by the gun grabber stealing it. He'll never get those bullets back, either. And the wear and tear on his rifle is irreversible! The rights violation *will* have a bad consequence--the gun-grabber will have to pay for it. By the same token, these facts in no way diminish the high value of act of saving those lives by killing the madman.

Those who believe that rights violations are always undesirable will be sure that the result of the evaluation will be to reject the violation, but that does not mean that they can reject arguments to the contrary without first answering them.

Rights violations are always undesirable--to the individual being violated.

Any such argument claims to provide a counterexample to their general theorem, and if one such counterexample is true the general theorem must be false.

I disagree. Just because a person might choose to violate individual rights in a given situation does not mean that individual rights do not exist.

In the real world, someone would grab the gun, and the gun owner would be owed compensation. But we wouldn't have this problem in the first place if the gun owner weren't such a dick.

I don't see how this

I don't see how this follows. One can sincerely acknowledge that a violation of rights has occurred without necessarily disapproving of the actor.

When we speak of "rights," we generally mean claims of right and wrong; that is, if I say you have a right to a certain object, it means that I believe it would be wrong for someone to violate your right. The problem here is that it seems contradictory to say that a certain act is wrong but at the same time say that you hope someone commits that act. A conception of rights should avoid these kinds of situations.

I disagree. Just because a person might choose to violate individual rights in a given situation does not mean that individual rights do not exist.

But when we all seem to agree that this person should violate individual rights, what does that say about our conception of individual rights?

In the real world, someone would grab the gun, and the gun owner would be owed compensation. But we wouldn't have this problem in the first place if the gun owner weren't such a dick.

Unfortunately, we live in a world with many dicks.

But when we all seem to

But when we all seem to agree that this person should violate individual rights, what does that say about our conception of individual rights?

I think one thing it says is that no binary rule can cover every possible case.

Two questions for those who

Two questions for those who believe my tale of the madman and the rifle poses no problem.

1. Do you believe in the principle of eminent domain? In theory, under eminent domain, the government takes property and compensates the owner. That is what various people propose to do with the rifle in my example.

2. Suppose the owner of the rifle sees you reaching for it in order to kill the madman and shoots you dead--with another rifle. Further suppose he had no other way of stopping you. Has he done anything wrong? After all, he was only defending his own property, acting against someone attempting to violate his rights.

Alternatively, suppose you see him aiming at you and you shoot first, that being the only way of saving your life. Do you now deserve whatever punishment is appropriate for a murderer? After all, if he was acting properly in stopping a rights violation, surely you have no right to stop him.

Two questions for those who

Two questions for those who believe my tale of the madman and the rifle poses no problem.

I guess I'm one of them, but the question to me is not whether it is a problem (it is), but rather is it possible to solve it by rights theory alone. I think it is possible, but common theories of natural rights need work to get there.

1. Do you believe in the principle of eminent domain?

Not as presently practiced. (How's that for weaseling?) Intuitionally, I think there may be a valid ordering of rights. Thus a right to property (such as the gun) can be superseded by the right to life (the potential victims). The way eminent domain is practiced we have the forcible exchange of property rights. I should not use the man's rifle to prevent the theft of my stereo. Determining the ordering of rights becomes a utilitarian/economic excercise, thus my original argument that utility and rights go together. I do not think that rights theory is fully developed, and I have no problem using utilitarian arguments as a tool to assist in finding better rights theories.

I am afraid I'll have to stew over the second question for some time, I don't see an obvious solution by rights or utility.

More discussion here