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.


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 Hobbes on Civil Association

By Michael Oakeshott
Foreword by Paul Franco

Of Michael Oakeshott and his interest in Thomas Hobbes, Professor Paul Franco has written, “The themes Oakeshott stresses in his interpretation of Hobbes are . . . skepticism about the role of reason in politics, allegiance to the morality of individuality as opposed to any sort of collectivism, and the principle of a noninstrumental, nonpurposive mode of political association, namely, civil association.” Of Hobbes’s Leviathan, Oakeshott has written, “Leviathan is the greatest, perhaps the sole, masterpiece of political philosophy written in the English language.” Hobbes on Civil Association consists of Oakeshott’s four principal essays on Hobbes and on the nature of civil association as civil association pertains to ordered liberty. The essays are “Introduction to Leviathan” (1946); “The Moral Life in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes” (1960); “Dr. Leo Strauss on Hobbes” (1937); and, “Leviathan: A Myth” (1947). The foreword remarks the place of these essays within Oakeshott’s entire corpus.


Hobbes on Civil Association

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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 July 17, 2018

Is Robert Mueller an Officer of the United States?

Robert Mueller's authority hinges on whether he has been issued a commission from the President, and if he has, the President can remove him.

EconLog July 16, 2018

The End of Liberalism, by G. Patrick Lynch

Last week’s episode of EconTalk is an interview with Patrick Deneen, whose provocative book Why Liberalism Failed raises important questions for classical liberals, libertarians, defenders of modernity and the contemporary political Left.  I think it’s best placed among a group of books trying to understand the current economic and political world, such as Hillbilly Elegy and Coming Apart, both of which focus on the widely claimed growing economic and political divisions that the authors view as new and corrosive to the world in which we live.  However, unlike those books, Deneen places the “blame” for our current state of affairs on liberalism.  What exactly liberalism is for Deneen and how he situates it are controversial, and I’ll leave it to the reader to refer to the interview for clarity. That said, Deneen is touching on several matters that at the very least should be unsettling for even the staunchest believers in market freedom, limited government, and technological progress.

I think there are a number of important issues raised in this interview but I’m going to focus primarily on four of them.  The first is what is “the good” for Deneen?  The second is what is “natural” for human life?  Third, what is the proper relationship between the political and economic realms to maximize well being and responsibility?  Finally, can responsibility, which seems to me to be at the crux of much of this, be generated without religion, tradition, external coercion and other “cultural” forces?  I think the short answer is yes, but this episode is food for thought on what the challenges to achieving that may be.

Law & Liberty July 17, 2018

John Dickinson: Friend of Conscience

If we hope to understand the America founders fully, we simply cannot ignore John Dickinson's arguments about conscience and political restraint.

Liberty Law Talk July 16, 2018

Is Relativism the Best Constitutional Defense of Free Speech? A Conversation with Hadley Arkes

Hadley Arkes discusses the rights and duties of freedom of speech.

Liberty Review July 16, 2018

Escape from Europe: a calculus of consent model of the origins of liberal institutions in the North American colonies

VLAD TARKO, KYLE O’DONNELL CONSTITUTIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMY Abstract: The migration out of Europe and the establishment of North American colonies presents us with a great puzzle: why did the colonists establish democratic forms of governance? Considering that early democratic colonies appeared even before philosophical works such as those of Locke and Montesquieu were written, it is […]

Law & Liberty July 16, 2018

The Engaging Mind of Umberto Eco

A final essay collection from the author of The Name of the Rose.

OLL December 28, 2011

Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Essay (1917 ed.) (Immanuel Kant)

Kant.perpetual.peacePerpetual Peace: A Philosophical Essay, translated with Introduction and Notes by M. Campbell Smith, with a Preface by L. Latta (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1917).

OLL | Quotations March 13, 2005

William Emerson, in his oration to commemorate the Declaration of Independence, reminded his listeners of the "unconquerable sense of liberty" which Americans had (1802)

William Emerson

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 […]

OLL | Quotations November 29, 2010

Shaftesbury on the need for liberty to promote the liberal arts (1712)


EconLog July 16, 2018

The EU vs Google, by Alberto Mingardi

My colleague Massimiliano Trovato and I have a piece in the last Politico Europe (you should do to page 23 to read it)) on the matter. Thomas Vinje (head of global antitrust at Clifford Chance) is critical of Google and argues that Android’s open source architecture is basically a ruse.

We argue that this case will define Vestager’s “entire legacy as Europe’s antitrust czar” and that it “seems to have been built on shaky grounds”.

While it’s true that Android is used by more than 80 percent of smartphones worldwide, the history of the tech sector shows us that such arrangements can change very rapidly. At one point or another, Yahoo, Nokia and even MySpace were all thought to have conquered indisputable monopolies. Now we speak about them in the past tense.

Too often regulators assume that in tech markets the past is a good indicator of the future. It is not. And so, in assessing Android’s dominance it’s important to look carefully at the mobile market and how it affects consumer welfare.

EconTalk July 16, 2018

Russ Roberts on the Information Revolution, Politics, Yeats, and Yelling

EconTalk host Russ Roberts does a monologue on how political discourse seems to have deteriorated in recent years and the growth in outrage, tribalism, and intolerance for those with different views from one’s own. Roberts suggests that part of the problem is the revolution of the market for information caused by the internet that allows people to customize what they see to fit their own political narratives and worldview. In short, the market for news works to make us feel good rather than to help us to discover the truth. The monologue closes with some suggestions for how we might improve the way we consume information and interact with those we disagree with.

Law & Liberty July 16, 2018

Measurement versus Judgment: On Jerry Muller’s Tyranny of Metrics

We use metrics to assess everything, but measurement does not always equal wisdom.

OLL November 21, 2011

Proslogium; Monologium; An Appendix in Behalf of the Fool by Gaunilon; and Cur Deus Homo (Saint Anselm)

Anselm.proslogiumProslogium; Monologium; An Appendix in Behalf of the Fool by Gaunilon; and Cur Deus Homo, translated from the latin by Sidney Norton Deane (Chicago: Open Court, 1903).

EconLog July 16, 2018

Radical Markets in Immigration, by Bryan Caplan

I just finished Posner and Weyl’s Radical Markets,  and I’m happy to say it’s well-worth the price.  The book isn’t just engaging and exceedingly well-written.  Its policy proposals and vision are thought-provoking enough to inspire twenty blog posts.

That said, almost all of those blog posts should be highly critical.

Let’s start with their best idea – the Visas Between Individuals Program (VIP).  Here’s Posner and Weyl’s sketch:

[A]ny ordinary person could sponsor a migrant worker… for an indefinite period rather than a renewable three-year period.  We would allow people to sponsor one migrant worker at any moment in time.  This could either bring a rotating cast of temporary guest workers (one at a time)… or one permanent migrant over a lifetime.

Law & Liberty July 13, 2018

What Is A Soccer Player Worth?

We might think the high salaries paid to soccer stars are unjust, but the just price requires a philosopher-king, and we know where that thinking leads.

OLL | Quotations January 11, 2009

Gustave de Molinari argues that political parties are like "actual armies" who are trained to seize power and reward their supporters with jobs and special privileges (1904)


CEE February 4, 2018

Political Behavior

Political BehaviorThe fact of scarcity, which exists everywhere, guarantees that people will compete for resources. Markets are one way to organize and channel this competition. Politics is another. People use both markets and politics to get resources allocated to the ends they favor. Even in a democracy, however, political activity is startlingly different from voluntary exchange in markets.

People can accomplish many things in politics that they could not accomplish in the private sector. Some of these are vital to the broader community’s welfare, such as control of health-threatening air pollution from myriad sources affecting millions of individuals or the provision of national defense. Other public-sector actions, such as subsidies to farmers and restrictions on the number of taxicabs in a city, provide narrow benefits that fall far short of their costs.

In democratic politics, rules typically give a majority coalition power over the entire society. These rules replace the rule of willing consent and voluntary exchange that exists in the marketplace. In politics, people’s goals are similar to the goals they have as consumers, producers, and resource suppliers in the private sector, but people participate instead as voters, politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists. In the political system, as in the marketplace, people are sometimes (but not always) selfish. In all cases, they are narrow: how much they know and how much they care about other people’s goals is necessarily limited.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

America’s Second Crusade (William Henry Chamberlin)

Chamberlin.Second.CrusadeChamberlin, a noted American journalist and author, wrote this volume on the role of the United States in World War II just a few years after the surrender of the Axis forces in 1945. This reprint is designed to give history students and scholars a more immediate “window” into both the causes and aftermath of the conflict by focusing on the consequences of World War I, the diplomatic decision that caused the U.S. to enter the conflict and the alliances between Allied forces after the war that led directly to the Atomic Age. A foreword from the author analyzes the historical gap between 1945 and 1950 and expresses caution with the “growing dependence of American foreign policy” on Japan and Germany.

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

James Gillray on War and Taxes during the War against Napoleon

Gillray_NewTaxesIn this essay we wish to examine 5 prints drawn by James Gillray in the 1790s and 1800s which explore the theme of the suffering of the British people (“John Bull”) under the heavy taxation and national debt which the British government imposed on them while fighting the war against Napoleon.

OLL July 4, 2013

BOLL 47: Wilhelm von Humboldt, “Of the Individual Man” (1792) (Wilhelm von Humboldt)

Wilhelm von HumboldtThe Best of the OLL No. 47: Wilhelm von Humboldt, “Of the Individual Man” (1792) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2013).

OLL | Quotations January 9, 2005

Ambroise Clément draws the distinction between two different kinds of charity: true voluntary charity and coerced government "charity" which is really a tax (1852)

EconLog July 17, 2018

Is Fed policy too easy or too tight?, by Scott Sumner

Now that the Fed is gradually raising interest rates, there’s a lot of discussion of whether policy is too easy or too tight. I don’t have strong views either way on this question, as current policy seems reasonably appropriate to me. But I also thought it might be useful to sketch out a few reasons why I’m fairly content, relative to some other observers.

  1.  Some people take a “Phillips Curve” perspective, and argue that tight labor markets will lead to higher inflation.  The current low rate of wage growth is viewed as a sort of mystery, given the very low rate of unemployment.  In my view there is no mystery at all, as wage growth is determined largely by NGDP growth, not the tightness of labor markets.  TIPS spreads still don’t show much risk of higher inflation.

  2.  At the other extreme, some people worry that a falling yield spread, i.e. a flattening yield curve, indicates that the risk of recession is rising.  Here it’s important to note that the current yield spread does not forecast a recession, and even if the yield curve were to become completely flat there would still be less than a 50% chance of recession over the next 12 months.  Instead, the flattening yield curve should be seen as an indication that NGDP growth is likely to gradually slow over time, as is appropriate if the Fed is serious about its 2% inflation target.

Law & Liberty July 13, 2018

China’s Cultural Revolution and the Social Justice Left

At what point will the Left have gone too far?

Liberty Review February 15, 2017

Does Situationism Threaten Free Will and Moral Responsibility?

MICHAEL MCKENNA & BRANDON WARMKE JOURNAL OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY Abstract: The situationist movement in social psychology has caused a considerable stir in philosophy. Much of this was prompted by the work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. Both contended that familiar philosophical assumptions about the role of character in the explanation of action were not supported […]

Econlib July 2, 2018

Get the Story Straight, by Arnold Kling

In Suicide of the West,1 Jonah Goldberg offers an ambitious intellectual defense of modern conservatism. His argument is grounded in a theory of cultural anthropology in which the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves play a crucial role in political economy.  If we tell the right story, we can maintain political order and continue to make economic progress.  But instead the wrong story, told by people he labels Romantics, threatens to undo what he calls “the Miracle,” the progress that took off as a consequence of the Age of Reason.

OLL | Liberty Matters July 1, 2018

Peter Lewin, "Ludwig Lachmann – Enigmatic and Controversial Austrian Economist" (July. 2018)

Liberty MattersThis month’s Liberty Matters discusses the work of the Austrian economist Ludwig M. Lachmann (1906 - 1990). All his whole professional life Lachmann considered himself an "Austrian" economist, a soldier dedicated to fostering an appreciation of Austrian insights and to developing those insights beyond the initial contributions of Carl Menger. So Lachmann saw it as his mission to advance among the Austrians a heightened appreciation of the importance of the subjective and autonomous nature of expectations. Lachmann’s most significant contribution to economic theory was to the theory of capital. These contributions can be found in numerous articles in the 1940s, during the LSE period, culminating in his book Capital and its Structure (1956), and in various articles subsequently right up until his death, and also in his final full length work, The Market as an Economic Process (1986). Lachmann’s capital theory is a logical outgrowth of his methodological and epistemological views. In other words, it reflects his thoroughgoing subjectivism. The topic is introduced by Peter Lewin, Clinical Professor in the Jindal School of Management, University of Texas, Dallas, and is joined in the discussion by Hans Eicholz, Senior Fellow at Liberty Fund; Paul Lewis, Reader in Economics and Public Policy at King’s College London; Mario J. Rizzo, professor of economics at NYU, and Bill Tulloh is a cofounder and economist at Agoric.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

Liberty Law Forum July 2, 2018

Desire or Dominance?: Sexual Harassment’s Legal Maze

The discrimination approach doesn’t give us adequate tools for managing real differences between the sexes.

OLL November 21, 2011

The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (John Milton)

Milton.tenure.kingsThe Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, edited with Introduction and Notes by William Talbot Allison (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1911).

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