There's an interesting examination of the connection between freedom and property rights on Left2Right. Elizabeth Anderson seems to be developing an argument that even if you consider freedom the ultimate value, libertarian politics will not ensue. So far, her case looks promising, but I would like to try a different line of attack. I would like to ask what version of freedom, if any, could justify libertarian political views.
I am, myself, a considerable fan of freedom, and I certainly agree with the libertarians on a number of issues. I oppose censorship, support the legalization of drugs and prostitution, and so forth. But I do not accept the libertarian elevation of private property to the status of seemingly the highest right there is. Indeed, I don't believe in absolute rights of any kind.
Instead, when I advocate freedom, it is for Millian reasons. Mill, of course, advocated giving people a large amount of control over their own lives in On Liberty, but his arguments were all consequentialist. One theme that runs through much of the essay is that people are generally best placed to determine what will contribute to their own happiness and to determine how to get it, so in most cases they'll be happiest if left to take care of themselves. He has many other arguments, of course, but the important point is that they all view freedom as a means to an end, as a way of increasing the general happiness. As a result, they are also all contingent; if circumstances are such that in a particular kind of case freedom is not contributing to happiness, it ceases to have value. To connect this to concrete policies, I am fairly certain that freedom from taxation does not have sufficient benefits to outweigh the benefits of a well-run democratic government with decent social programs.
Being a compatibilist, I cannot see how freedom could have value as other than a means, so for me the Millian view of freedom is the only one that can make sense. But of course compatibilism is hardly uncontroversial. Does a believer in contra-causal freedom have a better argument for libertarian politics than a compatibilist? Nozick perhaps thought so. Certainly, making freedom a more extraordinary thing might increase the plausibility of assigning it intrinsic value.
However, constructing an account of contra-causal freedom which gives the libertarians what they want is not as easy as might at first appear. If one is a contra-causal extremist, a la Sartre, then it would appear that no political consequences whatever follow. According to Sartre, our freedom is, by its nature, competely unlimited; we always have total freedom, in the sense of being totally responsible for what we make of our lives. This view is, of course, not original with Sartre; Descartes also thought a free will had no limits.
But if freedom is absolute like this, government policies can't take it away. Government policies thus can't be evaluated on the basis of how they affect freedom, because they can't affect freedom at all (well, with one possible exception; killing someone will take away their freedom according to Sartre, though not according to Descartes). Thus, Sartre wasn't in any way compromising his belief in the importance of freedom in his sense when he endorsed communism.
What the libertarian needs, then, is some intermediate kind of freedom, between compatibilist freedom and the extreme freedom of Descartes and Sartre. It must be somehow special, probably contra-causal, but still subject to being restricted by outside forces. There have, of course, been efforts to describe freedom of exactly that kind. I find all such accounts deeply problematic, unsurprisingly, but the important point is that this is where one's metaphysics are required to be if one is to use the intrinsic value of freedom to endorse libertarian politics.