This is a typical example of someone who simply does not understand libertarianism, nor the point of the nonaggression principle.
Take a look at the above conundrum. We can establish certain verifiable facts:
- The trolley will kill people no matter what (we assume for argument’s sake that there is no third option available that would stop the trolley from killing anyone.
- So if the potential savior does not act, a minimum of one person will die anyway. Therefore, the actual killing (aka aggression) of at most one person is not perpetrated by the potential savior.
- The potential savior has three choices: allow the trolley to kill one person; allow the trolley to kill 5 people; or do nothing and not know which people the trolley will kill, but being certain it will kill a minimum of one. Therefore, the potential savior does not negatively alter an existing situation if at most one person is killed. But he can positively alter the existing situation, by making sure that at least four lives are saved.
In order for the potential savior not to be culpable according to the Nonaggression principle, it must be established that he will initiate no aggressive violence. So his culpability will be determined by the following questions:
- Did potential savior cause the existing situation in any way to occur? (did he, through his actions, cause these people to be in this situation?)
- Is there a third option available that potential savior is aware of, that could lead to a better outcome; in other words, an option in which nobody will be killed?
If the answer to both questions is “no” then the potential savior is not culpable of initiating any aggression by making a choice for the fewer amount of victims, because the only influence he will be having on the existing situation is a positive one. Forced by circumstances he simply must allow at least one person to die whether he makes a choice or not. But if he allows the one person to die, he will by definition be saving the lives of 5 others.
As a matter of fact, not only is the potential savior allowed to decide. If he should decide to act, but make the WRONG decision (sacrificing the 5 by saving the one) he will be culpable of aggression, for he would have negatively influenced the outcome of the tragedy through his actions.
But the latter is no different outside of the context of libertarian societies.
Critics of libertarianism and the NAP could do everybody a favor by making sure they actually understand the object of their criticism before expressing an opinion about it.