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Fifty Years of Affirming the Ideal of Individual Liberty

Liberty Fund was founded in 1960 by Pierre F. Goodrich, an Indianapolis businessman and lawyer, with the mission of encouraging a deeper understanding of the requisites for restoring and preserving the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals. Upon his death in 1973, Mr. Goodrich left most of his estate to the Foundation for the purpose of exploring the many dimensions of liberty. Fifty years after its founding, Liberty Fund remains uncompromisingly committed to individual liberty in all of its dimensions.

A man of extensive intellectual interests, Mr. Goodrich reflected deeply upon the human condition, and his philosophy guides the Foundation. He observed that human beings are far from perfect and have only a partial understanding of their own nature and their own places in the world. Institutions, as creations of imperfect humans, are necessarily fraught with imperfections as well. Mr. Goodrich was particularly concerned with the corrosive nature of power and the intellectual hubris among those office holders; these things, he thought, created pretensions of certainty about the nature of the world and tempt leaders to advocate preposterous and dangerous "solutions." This abuse of reason yields restrictive institutional arrangements that concentrate political and economic power. Such concentrations invariably erode liberty itself and the moral values necessary for the exercise of individual liberty.

The responsible course of action in an imperfect world, Mr. Goodrich believed, consists of making those choices that favor liberty from among the imperfect options available. He thought that a commitment to liberty in all its dimensions (intellectual, religious, economic, and political among them) offers the best chance to fragment and decentralize power and to release individual, creative potential. Moreover, he saw individual liberty as necessarily entwined with individual responsibility, and he thought that bearing the consequences of one’s choices is an essential dimension of the exercise of liberty.

Liberty Fund is an educational foundation, reflecting Mr. Goodrich’s belief in the centrality of education. He understood learning as an ongoing process of discovery, not limited to traditional institutional settings or to specific ages. Education, in his view, is a lifelong responsibility of each individual. Education in a free society also requires a dialogue centered in the great ideas of civilization, for critical readings of the great ideas of the past can help illuminate what liberty means today.

Stimulating conversations about liberty has been the mission of Liberty Fund for the past fifty years. Today, the Foundation continues Pierre Goodrich’s vision by hosting conferences that facilitate the full and open exchange of ideas in a roundtable format, by publishing classic books on themes relating to human liberty, and by maintaining the Online Library of Liberty website—a collection of electronic volumes by authors from ancient Sumeria to the present day.

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