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 The Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke

By Sir Edward Coke
Edited by Steve Sheppard

Sir Edward Coke (1552–1634) successfully defended English liberties against the royal prerogative of the Stuart kings and virtually single-handedly established the rule of law for the English-speaking peoples. Coke’s view of English law has had a powerful influence on lawyers, judges, and politicians through the present day.


The Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke

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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.

EconLog July 20, 2018

Political Correctness in San Francisco, by Scott Sumner

It seems that San Francisco is changing the name of a street. The street is currently named after a racist former mayor. Henceforth it will be named after a Stalinist artist:

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted yesterday to change the name of Phelan Avenue to Frida Kahlo Way, citing racist policies of the city’s former leader, Mayor James Duval Phelan, the Chronicle reported.

I am reminded of an interesting diagram produced by Mark Perry:

A similar diagram might portray those who think the 1950s blacklist was unjust, and those who currently favor blacklisting Hollywood figures who make non-PC statements.  How big would the overlap be?

Law & Liberty July 20, 2018

Post-Modern Federalism: SALT That Away

It’s way too late to insist that our elected officials can’t just make up stuff. But there ought to remain a difference between a tweet and a federal lawsuit.

EconLog July 19, 2018

MAGAnomics: a 500 Day Appraisal, by Thomas Firey

A few weeks ago, the Trump administration surpassed its 500th day in office. Over that time, the President and his staff have been able to develop and refine their “Make America Great Again” economic agenda, pursue long-term policy goals, and to demonstrate both their commitment and ability to achieve those goals. Thus, we now have a good vantage point to survey and appraise President Trump’s “MAGAnomics.”

And at this moment, MAGAnomics appears to be highly successful. The unemployment rate hovers around record-low levels, more workers are entering the labor force, gross domestic product has grown at a solid 3% annual rate for three of the last four quarters, and consumer confidence is at levels not seen since the end of the late-1990s economic boom. Those are fine numbers for an administration in its 18th month in office.

The question is, will MAGAnomics help these good times continue long-term? To answer that, let’s look more carefully at the Trump economic agenda.

Law & Liberty July 20, 2018

Can Public Sector Unions Be Forced to Pay Back Previously Collected Agency Fees?

Because Janus vs. AFSCME ended public unions' ability to mandate agency fees, do they have to pay back what they accrued from their non-members?

EconLog July 18, 2018

Firm Functionalism, by Bryan Caplan

“My dear Martin, yet once more Pangloss was right: all is for the best.” – Candide

I have little sympathy for the Panglossian view that the status quo is socially optimal – or even socially satisfactory.  When I look at the world, I see vicious government policies, awful wars, and grotesque waste.  You could chalk this up to my libertarian priors, and not without just cause.  But in my defense, individual behavior often strikes me as sadly dysfunctional, too.  People would be markedly happier if they second-guessed their impulses, built a Beautiful Bubble, and walked away from their own misanthropy.  They don’t, but they should.

Still, one major form of social organization strikes me as highly functional – not merely from the point of view of the organizers themselves, but for society as a whole.  Ironically, it is arguably the most-maligned form of social organization: for-profit business.  Though I freely acknowledge the many shortcomings of the business community, it is far more sinned against than sinning.

How can I say this, when every intro econ textbook has multiple chapters packed with models of socially dysfunctional business arrangements?  By using my generic rebuttal: Most of these accusations casually assume away crucial constraints.  Once you take these constraints seriously, the performance of the business world is objectively outstanding.

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 […]

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 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 November 29, 2010

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


Law & Liberty July 19, 2018

The Gold Standard and Civil Society

It is probably impossible to restore the gold standard, but we should lament the ways its passing undermined trust.

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.

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 20, 2018

Balancing Technology and Self-Knowledge with Walker Percy

Our science fiction is not open to the soul's longings as revealed through eroticism, community, and faith: turning to Walker Percy can help remedy this.

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).

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.

EconLog July 17, 2018

Missing Something About Populism?, by Pierre Lemieux

Have we—“we” meaning students of social science and those who value individual liberty—learned something from the current populist movements in the world, and especially that which we observe with our own eyes right here in America? I suggest that we have, or should have, learned some already obvious lessons.

From the point of view of individual liberty, populism is good if it means having the people’s individual preferences respected; it is bad if it means being ruled by the people’s collective preferences. This distinction between the two concepts of populism is crucial. Many libertarians (including your humble servant for a long time) thought that populism was ordained to the first goal, or or at least could be deflected in that direction; we now realize that its meaning or natural slope lead to the second.

Respecting individual preferences mean that ordinary people—those who are supposedly the beneficiaries of populism—can live their lives as they want to, given the equal liberty of everybody else to do the same. What this implies in social and political life is more complicated than it appears, but the principle and direction are pretty clear.

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).

Law & Liberty July 19, 2018

Beware the Backlash

If #MeToo encounters a society-wide backlash, its positive effect may wear off.

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 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)


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.

Law & Liberty July 20, 2018

Citizens Do Not Agree that the Supreme Court Is Too Conservative

For most journalists and academics to get a Supreme Court that marches both with them and with the people, they need to elect a new people.

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)

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).

Law & Liberty July 19, 2018

The Propriety of Presidential Impeachments, Past and Present

We need to take a broad view of the propriety of presidential impeachments.

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.

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 | 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

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".

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