Consider the following scenario:
- In a remote isolated village, there is a family with a sick infant, who desperately and urgently needs a specific type of medicine. They have no way of procuring it in time, since the closest pharmacy is 500 Km away.
- There is an old man in the village who possess some of this medicine (he uses it recreationally, or maybe he just likes to collect exotic medicines). He has obtained this medicine with money he earned with his hard work and his unique talents as a local craftsman.
- He refuses however to part with the medicine. It is rightfully his, and he really doesn't care about the infant, as he is not related to her or her family in any way.
- The only way that the infant will survive is if she takes that medicine within 24 hours, and the only way that will happen is if the old man hands it over.
The dilemma: Are the local authorities (the local sheriff, the village council, whatever...) justified in forcing the old man to hand over his medicine? On one hand it is the only way to save the child, on the other hand this would be an infringement of the rights and freedom of the old man. Most people would argue that yes, the local authorities are justified, but I am interested in the strong Libertarian position.
Given how much importance Libertarians like Robert Nozick and Ayn Rand place on personal freedom and choice, and how they consider any form of taxation or government coercion or control of resources to be morally wrong, how would they respond to the dilemma? Are the authorities justified or not in forcing the man to give his medicine to the infant?
Alternative scenario: The old man is willing to part with the medicine, but at an exorbitant price (like the entire family's holdings and their income for the next 10 years). Per Nozick, Rand (or Milton Friedman), in this case, are the authorities justified in forcing the old man to sell it for a reasonable price (whatever that is)?