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: On Religion, by Benjamin Constant.


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 The Principles of Natural and Politic Law

By Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui
Translated by Thomas Nugent (1763)
Edited and with an Introduction by Petter Korkman

Born in 1694, Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui helped transform the modern tradition of natural law and convey it to new generations.


The Principles of Natural and Politic Law

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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 February 23, 2018

Canine Democracy

From bitter experience the Social-Democrats know that life in Mrs. Merkel’s political embrace is a kiss of the spider woman: you slowly die.

EconLog February 23, 2018

Will the Swiss adopt 100% reserve banking?, by Scott Sumner

The answer is clearly no, because they are not being asked to adopt 100% reserve banking. However there is an upcoming referendum for creating a system of 100% reserve backed demand deposits in Swiss banks. I read the literature in support of this referendum, and I'm having trouble figuring out what problem this is supposed to solve:

3) What are the fundamental advantages of sovereign money?Sovereign money in a bank account is completely safe because it is central bank money. It does not disappear when a bank goes bankrupt. Finance bubbles will be avoided because the banks won't be able to create money any more. The state will be freed from being a hostage, because the banks won't need to be rescued with taxpayers' money to keep the whole money-transaction system afloat i.e. the "too big to fail" problem disappears. The financial industry will go back to serving the real economy and society. The money and banking systems will no longer be shrouded in complexity, but will be transparent and understandable.Unless I'm mistaken, this is simply false.


PS. Here is the title page of my copy of 100% Money. The frontispiece is actually signed by Irving Fisher. I bought the book in Madison, Wisconsin, for $3.50. :)

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EconLog February 23, 2018

Restricting Speech for Nationalist Reasons, by Contributing Guest

by Pierre Lemieux

Statements invoking "the people" are generally no more than political demagoguery from those who claim to represent this magical and rousing entity. Polish flags.jpg I don't know to what extent Poles helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust, but it is impossible that it involved 100% of the Poles. It is also inconceivable that it was 0%. Moreover, since I don't speak Polish, I haven't read the law that was just adopted in that country. Despite these caveats, I think there are still a couple of lessons to be safely drawn from the current controversy.

According to an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal of February 2, Polish president Andrzej Duda approved a libel law, which includes jail penalties, against "accusing the Polish people of assisting in the Holocaust." It would be important to know which exact expression the Polish President and others used. The Wall Street Journal reporter also writes "the Polish population" and "Polish society," not in quotation marks. Translation is a complex matter but the concept of "the people" has been around for a few centuries--not to mention more ambiguous concepts in antiquity, such as the Roman senatus populusque romanus ("the senate and the people of Rome"). But it wouldn't be surprising if Duda invoked "the people" as modern politicians, especially the populist ones, love to do.

Law & Liberty February 23, 2018

The Troubling Apotheosis of the Notorious RBG

The adulation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which appears ever growing on the left, raises concerns about the left’s model of a justice and of justice.

OLL | Quotations December 14, 2011

Madame de Staël on the tyrant Napoleon (1818)

Madame de Stael

EconLog February 21, 2018

A Balanced View of Trump, by David Henderson

I rarely find a balanced view of Trump. I gave one about a month ago. I've now found another.

Here's Richard Brookhiser on what William F. Buckley, Jr. thought of Trump:

Buckley wrote about Trump the politician once, in an article for Cigar Aficionado, which ran in the spring of 2000 after Trump's brief pursuit of the nomination of the Reform party, Ross Perot's then-rudderless vehicle. Buckley ID'd Trump as a demagogue, narcissist division. "When he looks at a glass," Buckley wrote, "he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America." This was a political as well as a personal judgment: Trump sought office not to accomplish anything, but to advance and gratify himself. Candidate Trump had issues in 2000, and more in 2016, and beyond. But Bill knew his man. They had been fellow New Yorkers for decades. Bill did not regularly read Page Six, but his wife Pat did. Bill had observed every step of Trump's public career. He knew Trump was gilt all the way down.
Brookhiser, "WFB Today," National Review, February 16, 2018.

Law & Liberty February 22, 2018

Oxfam and the Corruption of Foreign Aid

Beyond their corruption, Oxfam’s ideas of how poverty is to be overcome — by means of foreign aid — is, and in retrospect has always been, deeply flawed.

EconLog February 21, 2018

Do deficits matter?, by Scott Sumner

I am seeing a disturbing rise in "free lunch" thinking. One place this increasingly shows up is in the case of "deficits". People seem to have trouble grasping that deficit spending implies future austerity.

Let's start with an electric company. Suppose it plans on being in business forever. It decides to issue enough debt so that it's current stock of debt at any given point in time is equal to 1% of the GDP of the city it serves. If the city it serves is growing over time, the electric company can basically run "deficits" forever, or so it would appear.

In fact, the electric company still faces a budget constraint. It must still service that debt with money earned from customers. The net present value of future interest and principle payments is still equal to the value of the debt issued. The debt continues to be a liability, in any meaningful sense of the terms. Ratepayers should still be concerned about the electric company issuing too much debt, and saddling them with huge future liabilities.

OLL December 28, 2011

The Bhagvat-Geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon (Charles Wilkins)

bhagvat-geetaThe Bhagvat-Geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon; in Eighteen Lectures; with Notes. Translated from the Original, in the Sanskreet, or Ancient Language of the Brahmans, by Charles Wilkins, Senior Merchant in the service of the Honorable The East India Company, on their Bengal Establishment (London: C. Nourse, 1785).

Liberty Review May 27, 2016

Inference of Trustworthiness from Intuitive Moral Judgments

APAEVERETT, JIM A. C.; PIZARRO, DAVID A.; CROCKETT, M. J. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: GENERAL,  145.6 (2016):  772-787. Abstract: Moral judgments play a critical role in motivating and enforcing human cooperation, and research on the proximate mechanisms of moral judgments highlights the importance of intuitive, automatic processes in forming such judgments. Intuitive moral judgments often share […]

Law & Liberty February 23, 2018

Originalism, Minorities, and Women

Is it an indictment of originalism that most originalists in the academy are white males?

EconTalk February 19, 2018

Jordan Peterson on 12 Rules for Life

12%20Rules%20for%20Life.jpgJordan Peterson, author of 12 Rules for Life, talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topics covered include parenting, conversation, the role of literature in everyday life, and the relationship between sacrificial rites and trade.


Time: 1:18:22

Law & Liberty February 23, 2018

The Constitutional Propriety of Impeaching the President

On the 150th anniversary of Andrew Johnson's trial in the Senate, we should remember that impeaching the president isn't only about specific crimes.

OLL | Quotations February 19, 2018

Jeremy Bentham on how the interests of the many (the people) are always sacrificed to the interests of the few (the sinister interests) (1823)

Jeremy Bentham

OLL December 28, 2011

Midsommer Nights Dreame (facs. 1st Folio 1623) (William Shakespeare)

midsommer.nightShakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, being a Reproduction in Facsimile of the First Folio Edition 1623 from the Chatsworth copy in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire, K.G. with an Introduction and Census of Copies by Sidney Lee (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1902).

Law & Liberty February 22, 2018

Britain’s Entry into World War II Led to Its Second-Rate Status

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes says the end of a matter is better than the beginning. Not for Britain in World War II, however.

OLL | Quotations January 20, 2010

Richard Price on the true Nature of Love of One's Country (1789)

Richard Price

Liberty Review April 27, 2017

Adam Smith, Prophet of Law and Economics

Adam SmithPAUL G. MAHONEY THE JOURNAL OF LEGAL STUDIES, Volume 46, Number 1 Abstract: Law and economics scholars do not normally identify Adam Smith as an important figure in the field. However, his Lectures on Jurisprudence contain a wealth of insights and analytical techniques that law and economics scholars of the late 20th century would repeat. This […]

Law & Liberty February 20, 2018

Justice Gorsuch So Far

Republican nominees have often been disappointments for originalists, but Neil Gorsuch is turning out to be the exception to this trend.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

A Vindication of Natural Society (Edmund Burke)

BurkeVindicationEdmund Burke’s first work, originally issued anonymously in 1756 as a letter attributed to “a late noble writer.” The Vindication is a political and social satire ridiculing the popular enlightenment notion of a pre-civil “natural society.”

EconTalk February 21, 2018

Chaos and Order: Could 12 Rules for Life Help Us Find Balance

by Alice Temnick

Is it a relief to know that there is a shared belief in life as tragic, troubled, and full of misery? Would a plan for engaging in meaningful conversation, feeling significant and taking responsibility relieve us from an anxious and miserable state?

Jordan Peterson, author of 12 Rules for Life, talks about the book and his lectures with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Aggregating the psychological wisdom of the 20th century, this clinical psychologist aims to help improve lives through deep and practical advice about daily choices. Rejecting a goal of happiness, Roberts and Peterson explore topics of parenting, activism, university education shortcomings, and more through recognizing and harnessing the power of the darker side of life.

  1. Peterson likens his current phenomenon on YouTube and best-selling Amazon author status as 'surfing a hundred foot wave'. He acknowledges that fame is fragile and can change instantly, that the price of making a mistake is high. Is this more prominent in today's social media-entrenched culture? What examples can you provide to support or refute this?

OLL | Quotations July 6, 2010

Jefferson's list of objections to the British Empire in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776)

Thomas Jefferson

Law & Liberty February 21, 2018

What Makes Civil Wars Different

David Armitage offers tremendous insight into civil wars and how to understand them, but not in the usual social scientific or historical key.

OLL December 28, 2011

Study Guides on Images of Liberty and Power: The People and the Ruling Elite (Wade and Daumier) (Honoré Daumier)

people.ruling.eliteStudy Guides on Images of Liberty and Power: The People and the Ruling Elite (Wade and Daumier) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010).

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

The People and the Ruling Elite in Caricatures (Wade and Daumier)

People and Ruling ElitesJohn Wade (1788-1875) was active in British reform circles throughout the 1820s. This group included people such as James Mill (the father of J.S. MIll) and other “Philosophical Radicals”. One of their key demands was to enlarge the franchise to include better representation of the new cities which had grown during the industrial revolution and to reduce the number of “rotten boroughs” which were very small electorates in the countryside which were dominated by the local landowners. The First Reform Act of 1832 increased the size of the electorate by over 50%, enabling some 1/6 of the English population to vote. One reason why reformers like John Wade wanted a larger electorate was to enable them to protect themselves from the aristocratic and wealthy elites who benefited from the large number of government pensions, subsidies, monopolies, and other privileges which control of Parliament gave them. He chronicled these abuses in several editions of The Extraordinary Black Book, or Corruption Unmasked (1820-1835). The cartoon comes from the Appendix to the 1835 edition.

In France too, there was agitation to enlarge the franchise and to weaken the power of the political elites from the aristocracy, the landowning and commercial classes, and the church. With the restoration of the monarchy in 1815 after the fall of Napoleon, the Bourbons were restored to the monarchy (Louis XVIII and then Charles X) and introduced a very limited franchise (barely 100,000 voters). Attempts by Charles X to limit freedom of speech and to compensate nobles for the loss of their land during the Revolution led to a popular uprising in July 1830 and the coming to power of a junior member of the Bourbon royal family, Louis Philippe who ruled from 1830-1848. The political satirist and republican Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) thought that very little would change under Louis Philippe and so satirized the king (whom he often drew in the shape of a pear) in many etchings such as “Gargantua” (1831) which shows the people still having to pay for the privileges of the elite through their taxes. Daumier spent 6 months in jail for this depiction of the king.

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".