The Freedom Not to Act

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Editor’s Note: The Good Samaritan Paradox poses the question of whether someone has the freedom not to rescue another person. This fundamental question, addressed by Nobel laureate Milton Friedman nearly 40 years ago, is more than a matter of political theory or moral philosophy, for the core question being debated in antitrust law, intellectual property law, and the regulation of network industries since the early 1990s has been the extent of a firm’s duty to assist its rivals (or others) by sharing its proprietary assets, especially its inventions and information in industries subject to rapid technological change. The following exchange occurred between Professor Friedman and a student, J. Gregory Sidak, on February 9, 1978 at Stanford Law School, during the question period following Professor Friedman’s lecture, The Role of Government in a Free Society.

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Milton Friedman, The Freedom Not to Act, 1 Criterion J. on Innovation 85 (2016).