Liberty Fund

Liberty Fund was founded in 1960 by Pierre F. Goodrich, an Indianapolis lawyer and businessman, to the end that some hopeful contribution may be made to the preservation, restoration, and development of individual liberty through investigation, research, and educational activity.

Now available in paperback: On Religion, by Benjamin Constant. (Hardcover coming soon.)

Books

Great books are the repository of knowledge and experience. Liberty Fund seeks to preserve the wisdom and learning of the ages and to strengthen our understanding and appreciation of individual liberty and responsibility.

For over four decades, Liberty Fund has made available some of the finest books in history, politics, philosophy, law, education, and economics—books of enduring value that have helped to shape ideas and events in man’s quest for liberty, order, and justice.

Featured Book On Religion

By Benjamin Constant
Translated by Peter Paul Seaton Jr.
Introduction by Pierre Manent

This is the first full-length English translation of Benjamin Constant’s massive study of humanity’s religious forms and development, published in five volumes between 1824 and 1831. Constant (1767–1830) regarded On Religion, worked on over the course of many years, as perhaps his most important philosophical work. He called it “the only interest, the only consolation of my life,” and “the book that I was destined by nature to write.”

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On Religion

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These resources are designed to further Liberty Fund’s educational activities. They include classic works in the tradition of limited government, as well as lively current discussions of how classical-liberal principles apply in today’s world.

Law & Liberty January 17, 2018

The Divide Between Jefferson and Adams on Human Nature is Ours Too

Why has Thomas Jefferson become the progressives' favorite founder?

OLL November 21, 2011

The Free Sea (Hakluyt trans.) (Hugo Grotius)

GrotiusFreeSeaThe Free Sea, trans. Richard Hakluyt, with William Welwod’s Critiuqe and Grotius’s Reply, ed. David Armitage (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).

OLL | Quotations May 28, 2006

In Shakespeare's Henry V the king is too easily persuaded by his advisors that the English economy will continue to function smoothly, like obedient little honey-bees in their hive, while he is away with his armies conquering France (1598)

Shakespeare

EconLog January 17, 2018

Carillion and the reputation of privatisations, by Alberto Mingardi

"Privatisations" were done to make again room for the private sector, and for government officials to stop managing a particular business. In reality, of course, the boundaries may be blurred...

UK construction.jpeg Instances of classical liberal-leaning (critics would say: neo-liberal) government were very few in the 20th century. Margaret Thatcher's one was perhaps the most spectacular, as England really walked a long way in the direction of the command-and-control economy. Thatcher's privatisations were the first and as a political leader she cast a long shadow: so that even today, twenty-eight years after she left office, she is regularly evoked in broader debates over the balance between the public and the private sector.

Carillion, a British big construction company that grew enormously in a bunch of different businesses active in public procurement, is now filing for liquidation. In England's cultural climate, which is by no means friendly to conservatives at this moment, this bankruptcy is revitalising those on the left who want to do away with the Iron Lady's legacy. It is probably, by all means, "the end of the love affair between governments and private contractors".

Law & Liberty January 18, 2018

Making Politics Possible Again

Those who fear that the good ideas Trump champions will be tainted by his unsavory character are not thinking politically.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

Fugitive Essays: Selected Writings of Frank Chodorov (Frank Chodorov)

ChodorovA collection of Chodorov’s essays selected from The Freeman and Human Events and other publications.

OLL | Quotations January 16, 2018

Algernon Sidney on how the absolute state treats its people like cattle (1698)

Algernon Sidney

Law & Liberty January 17, 2018

Jacques Lacan: Conservative Icon?

It is time for those on the right to start exploring Lacan and use him to theoretically advance conservatism.

EconLog January 16, 2018

For a Free Market in Plasma, by David Henderson

Ottawa, Ontario and Washington, D.C. - A group of professional ethicists and economists published an open letter urging provincial governments to reconsider proposals to ban compensation for blood plasma donations. The letter is signed by 26 ethicists and economists, including two Nobel Prize winners (Alvin Roth and Vernon Smith), a recipient of the Order of Canada (Jan Narveson), amongst others.This is the opening paragraph of today's press release advocating legalizing a market for blood plasma. Georgetown University's Peter Jaworski, one of the signers, asked me to sign because I am both an economist and a Canadian. I did. The actual statement is very well argued.

OLL | Quotations August 26, 2014

Arthur Seldon on the problem of "who guards us from the guardians"? (1990)

Seldon

OLL | Liberty Matters January 2, 2018

Nicholas Capaldi, "The Place of Liberty in David Hume's Project" (January, 2018)

Liberty MattersNick Capaldi, the Legendre-Soulé Distinguished Chair of Business Ethics in the School of Business of Loyola University, New Orleans, outlines David Hume's ambitious "Project" with a list of 8 "theses", the last of which states that "Liberty is the Central Theme." Capaldi's gloss on this thesis is "The ultimate ontological reality is the individual human agent; there is no institution or practice that transcends the individual; the legitimacy of any practice is based on the acquiescence of individuals.  Acquiescence is not consent. There is no philosophical argument for liberty: it is the default position.  Given its unique history, England was able to preserve and elaborate this insight in large part because of its inherent disposition to distrust abstractions – this is the British Intellectual Inheritance, and Hume's philosophical practice as well as his History is the only meaningful kind of account that can be given." Capaldi is joined in this month's discussion by Daniel Klein who is professor of economics and JIN Chair at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; Chandran Kukathas who holds the Chair of Political Theory in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics; Andrew Sabl who is Orrick Fellow and Visiting Professor in the Program on Ethics, Politics and Economics, Yale University; and Mark Yellin of Liberty Fund.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

EconLog January 16, 2018

For Individual Liberty, Size Does Not Matter - or So It Seems, by Contributing Guest

by Pierre Lemieux

"... let's have a look at the empirical evidence. Do available data show a correlation between individual liberty and the size of a country? A positive or a negative one?"

Catalonia.jpg In a recent Econlog post, Alberto Mingardi provided an interesting reflection on the Catalonia secession attempt. Since then, a secessionist government has been reelected in the region, and the future is uncertain.

More generally, Alberto suggested that, if states are unavoidable, having more of them is better than fewer. One reason is that individuals will have more choices as to which state to live under according to their preferences. A related reason is that competing states will have an incentive to satisfy the preferences of their clienteles. More numerous and homogeneous states will thus offer public services more in line with what citizens want. Alberto Alesina and Enrico Spolaore make related arguments in their book The Size of Nations.

However, there are also good arguments for larger, more cosmopolitan societies. What Friedrich Hayek, in his trilogy Law, Legislation and Liberty, calls the Great Society, i.e. the abstract classical-liberal order, is more likely to flourish in a large, cosmopolitan society than under small-group tyranny. In a large and diversified society, Leviathan may be less effective at oppression. At any rate, smaller, homogeneous nation-states will typically not allow individuals to move freely between themselves.

Liberty Review January 21, 2017

The Commonwealth of Bees: On the Impossibility of Justice-Through-Ethos

CambridgeCoreGERALD GAUS SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY AND POLICY, Volume 33, Issue 1-2 Abstract: Some understand utopia as an ideal society in which everyone would be thoroughly informed by a moral ethos: all would always act on their pure conscientious judgments about justice, and so it would never be necessary to provide incentives for them to act as […]

Law & Liberty January 17, 2018

The Ethical Mandate for Originalism

Originalism is the way we all want to be read, so why doesn't it have more adherents?

OLL | Quotations March 10, 2014

Mary Wollstonecraft's "I have a dream" speech from 1792

Mary Wollstonecraft

OLL November 21, 2011

“The Use of Knowledge in Society” (1945) (Friedrich August von Hayek)

Friedrich Hayek“The Use of Knowledge in Society,” American Economic Review, XXXV, No. 4; September, 1945, pp. 519–30.

Liberty Review January 8, 2018

Individualism, Collectivism, and Trade

Experimental EconomicsAIDIN HAJIKHAMENEH, ERIK O. KIMBROUGH EXPERIMENTAL ECONOMICS Abstract: While economists recognize the important role of formal institutions in the promotion of trade, there is increasing agreement that institutions are typically endogenous to culture, making it difficult to disentangle their separate contributions. Lab experiments that assign institutions exogenously and measure and control individual cultural characteristics can allow […]

Law & Liberty January 18, 2018

Understanding Love and Marriage with Rousseau

Reading Rousseau may help us sort out our love lives, but we have to think like the ancients to make good on his ideas.

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Algernon Sidney (1622-1683) and the Thomas Hollis Library of Liberty

AlgernonSidney_Hollis_facingL300-medium AlgernonSidney_Hollis-facingR300 This is part of an ongoing series which will examine the imagery created by the English publisher Thomas Hollis (1720-1774) to embellish and advertise his reissue of classic works by 17th century republicans and radicals who were active during the English Revolution and its aftermath. He called this series his "Library of Liberty" and volumes began to appear in the 1760s and were sent to libraries and individuals in Europe and the American colonies. The volumes were beautifully bound in red leather and had liberty symbols embossed on them (such as the phrygian or liberty cap and a dagger (in reference to Brutus' slaying of the tyrant Julius Caesar)). It was Hollis' intention to make these books, which he thought were so important to the understanding of liberty, catch the attention of the eye as well as the mind.

OLL | Quotations April 2, 2015

Under Magna Carta the King cannot impose taxes without the approval of the "common counsel" of the kingdom (1215)

King John

EconLog January 16, 2018

Whereof One Cannot Speak, Thereof One Must Be Silent, by Scott Sumner

We talk too much. I probably talk way too much. Humans like to explain everything, even things that cannot be explained.

Over at TheMoneyIllusion I did a post trying to rebut the bubble view of NASDAQ, circa 1999-2000. Lots of people bought tech stocks, mostly during periods of time when NASDAQ was around 3500 to 4000. (It briefly spiked to just over 5000.) Now it's over 7200. Yes, that's not a good rate of return for a period of 18 years, but it's not obviously horrible (especially if you include reinvested dividends, and especially for those who didn't buy at the absolute peak, which lasted very briefly.) In the comment section, Matthew Waters asked:

Saying NASDAQ had an OK value in 2000 brings up the same question as the 1987 crash: how could both the 2000 and 2002 NASDAQ prices be efficient? For that matter, how could both 2002 and 2003 NASDAQ prices be efficient? End of 2002: NASDAQ was at $1,300. End of 2003: NASDAQ was at $2,000.

Maybe bona fide news on future cash flows accounted for a 75% drop followed by a 50% increase within three years. I doubt it. For its part, Bitcoin has such swings in WEEKS rather than years.

Is there anything that could falsify the EMH? It should be dramatically reformulated from "prices reflect all available information." It would be far stronger and more predictive to say "it's very difficult to beat the market on a 6 month or 1 year timeline."
This is a very good question, and one that reaches into the field of epistemology. What can we know about the world? Which I would rephrase as "What information is useful"?

EconTalk January 15, 2018

Bill James on Baseball, Facts, and the Rules of the Game

baseball%20numbers.jpg Baseball stats guru and author Bill James talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of understanding complexity in baseball and elsewhere. James reflects on the lessons he has learned as a long-time student of data and the role it plays in understanding the underlying reality that exists between different variables in sports and outside of sports. The conversation closes with a discussion of our understanding of social processes and the connection to public policy and the ideologies we hold.

Play

Time: 1:02:20

Liberty Review January 5, 2017

Cartas Españolas de Jean-Baptiste Say: Evidencias Para el Estudio de la Circulación de Ideas Económicas

JOSÉ M. MENUDO Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Volume 34, Issue 2 Abstract: Este trabajo transcribe cinco cartas inéditas dirigidas a Jean-Baptiste Say por Manuel María Gutiérrez, Álvaro Flórez Estrada y el Marqués de Valle Santoro, respectivamente. Esta correspondencia acredita la proximidad de los autores españoles a las obras canónicas de la […]

OLL November 21, 2011

The Texts of Taoism, Part I (Lao Tzu)

Tao Te KingThe Sacred Books of China. The Texts of Taoism. Part I: The Tao Teh King. The Writings of Kwang Ze Books I-XVII, trans. James Legge (Oxford University Press, 1891).

OLL | Quotations January 15, 2018

Auberon Herbert warns that the use of force is like a wild and dangerous beast which can easily get out of our control (1906)

Auberon Herbert