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 Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented

By Samuel Pufendorf
Translated by Theophilus Dorrington (1703)
Edited and with an Introduction by Simone Zurbuchen

The Divine Feudal Law sets forth Pufendorf’s basis for the reunion of the Lutheran and Calvinist confessions. This attempt to seek a “conciliation” between the confessions complements the concept of toleration discussed in Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion in Reference to Civil Society.


The Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented


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 May 24, 2019

Socialist Fantasies, by Sarah Skwire

Ludwig von Mises’s essay “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth,” references Aristophanes’ play The Birds and the medieval fantasy of the idyllic and work-free Land of Cockaigne when Mises notes of socialist planners that, “Economics as such figures all too sparsely in the glamorous pictures painted by the Utopians. They invariably explain how, in the cloud-cuckoo lands of their fancy, roast pigeons will in some way fly into the mouths of the comrades, but they omit to show how this miracle is to take place.”[1]  Don Lavoie similarly points to the science fictional/fantastical aspect of socialist planning discussions when he comments in Rivalry and Central Planning that, “Details of future social life are not the province of economic science but of speculative literature.”[2]

Certainly one feels the fantasy novel being written in Michael Albert and Robert Hahnel’s article “Participatory Planning,” as they outline the precisely thought-out details of how their version of socialist planning will function...

Law & Liberty May 24, 2019

What Distinguishes America?

Orestes Brownson’s view is that America is the prudent compromise between two idealistic extremes.

Law & Liberty May 24, 2019

Originalism and Sovereign Immunity

The mistake that the Supreme Court makes is to presume that the answer to this specific question must be found in the Constitution.

Law & Liberty May 23, 2019

Global Poverty and the Lure of Resentment

Oxfam is reluctant to consider a troubling question: What if global poverty declined because economic inequality increased?

Law & Liberty May 23, 2019

Redlining in Reverse

“Adversity scores” are the latest gimmick to justify racial preferences in college admissions.

EconLog May 23, 2019

The confusing terminology of monetary policy, by Scott Sumner

As if monetary policy is not confusing enough, the terminology is also ambiguous, with terms used in inconsistent ways. For instance, is the Fed targeting interest rates, or are they targeting inflation?  Consider the following flow chart, showing two possible monetary policy targets.  At the bottom you have the actual tools that the central bank can use to influence policy.  In the middle you have flexible market prices that they may try to control, with the long run objective of stabilizing growth in NGDP or the price level (on top):

The term ‘instrument’ is sometimes used for variables that the central bank directly controls, like the monetary base, and at other times is used to describe the intermediate target of these open market operations, say the fed funds rate.  The term ‘target’ is sometimes used to describe the intermediate target of policy (say interest rates or exchange rates) and at other times is used to describe the goal of policy, say inflation or NGDP.

Law & Liberty May 22, 2019

Conservatives Have Become as Impatient as Liberals, and That’s Not Good

The conservatives have natural advantages over the progressives that ought not be squandered.

EconLog May 22, 2019

“Socialism”: The Provocative Equivocation, by Bryan Caplan

The socialists are back, but is it a big deal?  It’s tempting to say that it’s purely rhetorical.  Modern socialists don’t want to emulate the Soviet Union.  To them, socialism just means “Sweden,” right?  Even if their admiration for Sweden is unjustified, we’ve long known that the Western world contains millions of people who want their countries to be like Sweden.  Why should we care if Sweden-fans rebrand themselves as “socialists”?

My instinctive objection is that even using the term “socialism” is an affront to the many millions of living victims of Soviet-style totalitarian regimes.  Talking about “socialism” understandably horrifies them.  Since there are plenty of palatable synonyms for Swedish-type policies (starting even “Swedenism”!), selecting this particular label seems a breach of civility.

If this seems paranoid, what would you say about a new movement of self-styled “national socialists”?  Even if their policy positions were moderate, this brand needlessly terrifies lots of folks who have already suffered enough.

Law & Liberty May 22, 2019

Paul Collier and the False Promise of “Centrism”

We need to recognize that the first step—rather than further government "medicine"—is to stop poisoning the patient, and return to capitalism.

EconLog May 22, 2019

“Things have changed”, by Scott Sumner

The Wall Street Journal describes the views of Judy Shelton, one of the names mentioned for a position on the Fed’s Board of Governors:

She wrote critically in the weeks before that election about how the Fed’s low- rate policies were boosting wealthy investors and corporations at the expense of working Americans and retirees with fixed incomes.

On Tuesday, Ms. Shelton said she is no longer concerned about such perils because she believes the administration’s fiscal policies have boosted growth and productivity.

“Things have changed,” Ms. Shelton said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, reconciling her earlier views with Mr. Trump’s current call for lower rates. She pointed to Mr. Trump’s tax and regulatory policies that she said have boosted growth without raising inflation as an example of a much-needed tool for supporting economic growth.

Higher economic growth is generally associated with higher interest rates, so I’m not sure I follow this argument.  This sort of reasoning seems extremely discretionary, and not in a good way. I favor a rules-based approach to monetary policy.  Yes, “things have changed”, but in a direction calling for higher interest rates.

Law & Liberty May 21, 2019

Making Ourselves at Home: College Students and Safe Spaces

We should offer students a different way of thinking, one that makes college less about private comfort and more about citizenship in the public square.

Law & Liberty May 21, 2019

Game of Thrones Reminds Us That Virtue is Not Enough

These days it takes a medieval fantasy to help us remember why liberal democracy is worth cherishing.

EconTalk May 20, 2019

Mary Hirschfeld on Economics, Culture, and Aquinas and the Market

Aquinas-and-the-Market-198x300.jpg Author, economist, and theologian Mary Hirschfeld of Villanova University talks about her book, Aquinas and the Market, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hirschfeld looks at the nature of our economic activity as buyers and sellers and whether our pursuit of economic growth and material well-being comes at a cost. She encourages a skeptical stance about […]

Law & Liberty May 20, 2019

John Locke and Political Hebraism

Locke published the Two Treatises as a moral justification of violent resistance against tyranny—and the Hebrew Bible was vital to this endeavor.

OLL | Quotations May 12, 2014

Michel Chevalier on two kinds of political power in America, the Caesars and the Commissioners (1835)

Michel Chevalier

Law & Liberty May 20, 2019

In Defense of the Supreme Court’s First Constitutional Law Decision

When the Constitution was written and ratified there was no free-floating principle of sovereign immunity, but now the Supreme Court has recognized one.

AdamSmithWorks May 20, 2019

Speaking of Smith

On First Looking into the Wealth of Nations, with Sarah Skwire

AdamSmithWorks August 8, 2018

The Wealth of Nations: Book I, Chapter III

That the Division of Labour is Limited by the Extent of the Market

OLL November 21, 2011

The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1 (John Robinson)

John Robinson worksThe Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols (London: John Snow, 1851). Vol. 1.

OLL | Quotations July 22, 2007

St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the three conditions for a just war (1265-74)

Thomas Aquinas

Law & Liberty May 20, 2019

McClay’s Master Work: A History for Citizens

Finally, a narrative account of the United States for students that comprehends the flaws, but also the greatness, of a self-governing nation.

OLL | Liberty Matters May 1, 2019

David M. Hart, "Reassessing Bastiat's *Economic Harmonies* after 160 Years" (May, 2019)

Liberty MattersWith the completion of a draft of Liberty Fund's new translation of Frédéric Bastiat's economic treatise on Economic Harmonies we have invited a group of scholars who know Bastiat and his work to reassess his contributions to economic theory some 160 years after the book's first appearance in 1850-51. Bastiat is widely known for his brilliant economic journalism (the series of Economic Harmonies) but less so for his contributions to economic theory. As an economic theorist, Bastiat has suffered from being misunderstood (even by his colleagues and contemporaries), neglected and forgotten (by most economists since his death), being subjected to abusive or dismissive criticism (Marx and Schumpeter), and being damned with faint praise (Hayek). David Hart, the Academic Editor of Liberty Fund's Bastiat translation project, argues that out of a list of 18 or so key economic ideas Bastiat can be said to have made significant contributions to 11 of them, and so must be considered a serious economic theorist. He is joined in the discussion by Donald J. Boudreaux, professor of economics at George Mason University; Jörg Guido Hülsmann, professor of economics at the University of Angers in France; and Joseph T. Salerno, academic vice president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, and professor emeritus of economics in the Lubin School of Business of Pace University in New York City.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

OLL January 5, 2017

John Millar, "Circumstances which tend to increase the power of the Sovereign" (1771) (John Millar)

John Millar circumstancesThe Best of the OLL No. 74: John Millar, “Circumstances which tend to increase the power of the Sovereign” (1771) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2017).

Econlib May 6, 2019

Have Coase – Will Travel

Ronald Coase 256px-Coase_profile_2003.jpg

In 1960, Ronald Coase published what would become one of the most cited articles in economics and contribute to his receipt of a Nobel Prize. Coase’s point was both simple and revolutionary. First, he noted, externalities—costs from economic activity borne by people not directly involved in that activity—are reciprocal: for example, a factory’s pollution that spreads to a homeowner’s backyard is a problem only because it affects the homeowner’s backyard. If, in the above example, the factory or the backyard were in different places, then there would be no externality. Second, he showed that if there were no transaction costs—the costs of completing a bargain, such as finding willing buyers and sellers, negotiating costs, and enforcement costs—the externality would be corrected by the most efficient solution, and the initial allocation of property rights would not matter.

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Frederick Douglass and abolition

Frederick DouglassThere are numerous illustrations in the British edition of the Frederick Douglass. They are of three types: pictures of famous abolitionists, Douglass visiting graves and memorials of those who had struggled against slavery, or horror pictures of the treatment of slaves.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

The Rationale of Central Banking and the Free Banking Alternative (Vera C. Smith)

SmithVRationaleWritten as a doctoral dissertation under Friedrich Hayek at the London School of Economics in the early 1930s, the book covers the history of free banking in the 19th century and reviews the theoretical arguments both for and against the idea of free banking.

OLL | Quotations August 26, 2007

The IVth Amendment to the American Constitution states that the people shall be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches and seizures and that no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause (1788)

Liberty Law Talk May 16, 2019

Politics as War: A Conversation with David Davenport

David Davenport discusses how we lost "the cool, deliberate sense of the community" in making public policy and embraced the war metaphor.

OLL November 21, 2011

The State (Franz Oppenheimer)

Franz Oppenheimer stateThe State: Its History and Development viewed Sociologically, authorized translation by John M. Gitterman (New York: B.W. Huebsch, 1922).

CEE February 4, 2018


Until the so-called Keynesian revolution of the late 1930s and 1940s, the two main parts of economic theory were typically labeled “monetary theory” and “price theory.” Today, the corresponding dichotomy is between “macroeconomics” and “microeconomics.” The motivating force for the change came from the macro side, with modern macroeconomics being far more explicit than old-fashioned monetary theory about fluctuations in income and employment (as well as the price level). In contrast, no revolution separates today’s microeconomics from old-fashioned price theory; one evolved from the other naturally and without significant controversy.

The strength of microeconomics comes from the simplicity of its underlying structure and its close touch with the real world. In a nutshell, microeconomics has to do with supply and demand, and with the way they interact in various markets. Microeconomic analysis moves easily and painlessly from one topic to another and lies at the center of most of the recognized subfields of economics. Labor economics, for example, is built largely on the analysis of the supply and demand for labor of different types. The field of industrial organization deals with the different mechanisms (monopoly, cartels, different types of competitive behavior) by which goods and services are sold. International economics worries about the demand and supply of individual traded commodities, as well as of a country’s exports and imports taken as a whole, and the consequent demand for and supply of foreign exchange. Agricultural economics deals with the demand and supply of agricultural products and of farmland, farm labor, and the other factors of production involved in agriculture.

Liberty Forum May 1, 2019

What Went Wrong (and Right) with Conservative Philanthropy

Effective nonprofit giving on the Right means searching for the best balance between ideas, policies, and patience.

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