Libertarians are often accused of seeing people as inherently noble, far more virtuous than they really are, and as a result of this overly generous view of humanity it is said that libertarians come to the unrealistic conclusion about how little government is needed. Or, if the topic is gun control, libertarians are accused of seeing people as monsters, inherently dangerous, which is why libertarians allegedly need to be so heavily armed in order to feel safe in a world where everybody is a threat.
And, unfortunately all too often, the same person will make both of those arguments. And given that contradiction, it is easy to deduce that the person making those arguments is not interested in what the real view is that libertarians have.
Libertarians view people as, essentially, people. Given that almost every libertarian is versed in the basics of economics that means that libertarians believe that people respond to incentives. Give people an incentive to be good and that will increase the odds that people will be good, and give people an incentive to be corrupt and that will increase the odds that people will be corrupt.
That is why libertarians are such staunch advocates of the free market. It is a system of incentives that bring out the best in people. That is also why libertarians are such staunch opponents of government, as it is a system of incentives that bring out the worst in people.
It doesn’t involve thinking that people are inherently good and therefore the free market works, and it doesn’t involve thinking that people are inherently bad and therefore the government doesn’t work. It involves thinking that people are inherently people.