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 Exploring the Bounds of Liberty

Edited and with an Introduction by Jack P. Greene and Craig B. Yirush
Latin translations by Kathleen Alvis

Exploring the Bounds of Liberty presents a rich and extensive selection of the political literature produced in and about colonial British America during the century before the American Revolution. Most colonial political pamphlets and broadsides were printed in London, but even in the mid-seventeenth century some writings were published in New England, which then had the only printing presses in British America. With the expansion of printing to most of the colonies during the last decade of the seventeenth and the first three decades of the eighteenth century, however, the number of political polemical publications increased exponentially throughout colonial British America, from Barbados to Nova Scotia. The number of publications dealing with political questions increased in every decade after 1710, to become a veritable flood by the 1750s.


Exploring the Bounds of Liberty

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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.

EconTalk May 17, 2018

On the Tolerable Administration of Justice

by Amy Willis

meat and potatoes.jpeg Host Russ Roberts and his guest, Pete Boettke, invited us to dive into the "meat and potatoes" of governance in this week's EconTalk. Their wide-ranging conversation on political conversation covered a lot of ground... So much so I find it really hard to narrow down to just a few questions for your further consideration...

So let's try this...

  1. What question(s) would you like to ask Boettke on the general topic of public administration? Are there any particular points on which you disagree with Boettke? What are they, and what's the nature of your disagreement?

  2. What does Boettke mean by "public administration," and how does he think our understanding of it affects the way economics is practiced?

  3. What does it mean to "sustain the mythology" of the US Constitution? To what extent do you think that's an effective practice, and why? (Related, whose job is it- or should it be- to sustain this mythology?)

  4. What are some of the problems with decentralizing government functions? What things might be better handled at the local versus the federal level? (Note: Even Russ admits that not everything benefits from bottom-up solutions...)

  5. For me at least, this was perhaps the most significant question raised in this week's conversation, and it's a question I do not know how to answer. How about you? How do we market freedom and economic liberty to people who don't see it helping them very much? (You might read this question as Boettke suggests; how do we get back to the "soul of classical liberalism?"

Law & Liberty May 18, 2018

Originalism Deploys History Under the Discipline of Law

History is naturally an important part of public meaning originalism.

EconLog May 17, 2018

Markets are inhuman (and that's a good thing), by Scott Sumner

Here's the Financial Times:

The leaders of Italy's two leading populist parties took aim at global financial markets on Wednesday, accusing investors of trying to "blackmail" them by unloading Italian assets as they tried to form a new government.

A sharp sell-off that saw yields the Italian government's benchmark 10-year bond suffer their biggest move in two years was triggered by the parties calling for a "pre-Maastricht setting" in EU economic policymaking -- suggesting they would abandon the fiscal rules underpinning the euro once in government.
The FT article has a graph showing the sharp spike in the yield on Italian government bonds:

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 12.42.41 PM.png
Political leaders have all the faults of ordinary people. Some are motivated by spite; a desire to seek revenge against their opponents. Others are motivated by ideology; say a belief that big government is the way to solve problems.

Law & Liberty May 18, 2018

Tully: It’s Not a Wonderful Life

It’s not just about parenthood, but about the death of adult culture.

EconLog May 16, 2018

The Beauty of Trade, by Contributing Guest

by Pierre Lemieux

Despite the interference of two customs bureaus, one in China and one in the United States, not to mention the mountains of regulations in each place, trade had worked its magic.

In 1919, John Maynard Keynes wrote:

What an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man that age was which came to an end in August, 1914! ... The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep; he could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world, and share, without exertion or even trouble, in their prospective fruits and advantages; or he could decide to couple the security of his fortunes with the good faith of the townspeople of any substantial municipality in any continent that fancy or information might recommend. He could secure forthwith, if he wished it, cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate without passport or other formality.
From the vantage point of the 21st century, Keynes had a detrimental influence on the evolution of economics and liberty. A charitable view would be that he was a dilettante captured by the statist intelligentsia of his time (a libertarian cultural environment was as rare then as it is now), and naïve about Leviathan. Commenting on Friedrich Hayek's1944 book The Road to Serfdom, Keynes said of government intervention that "dangerous acts can be done safely in a community which thinks and feels rightly, which would be the way to hell if they were executed by those who think and feel wrongly" (quoted by the late Ralph Raico in "Was Keynes a Liberal?"). Keynes was sure that those who thought and felt rightly were on his side and that he would be advising their government. But he had, at least in 1919, the right sentiment about freedom of movement and the aesthetics of trade.

travelling salesman.jpg I was reminded of the beauty of trade after I ordered a ThinkPad laptop from Lenovo, a Chinese company that bought the ThinkPad line from IBM in 2005. Dell also makes good high-end laptops, but they did not have exactly what I wanted (I am actually writing this post on an older Dell machine). I don't like the fact that the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government creature, owns about 10% of Lenovo. I feel for the poor Chinese taxpayer who was milked to invest in Lenovo and who indirectly subsidized my ThinkPad. But the company's shares are also listed in Hong Kong; it is a market-driven and market-constrained organization, and if they make the computer I want, I will buy it.

Law & Liberty May 17, 2018

What Do Judges Maximize?

We need to move beyond naive attitudinalism and recognize that judges have preferences, but that these don't entirely control judicial decision-making.

Law & Liberty May 15, 2018

A Victorian Case for Ordered Liberty

James Fitzjames Stephen's Liberty, Equality, Fraternity remains the best response to John Stuart Mill, and the politics of unfettered progress.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

Tyranny Unmasked (John Taylor)

TaylorTyrannyJohn Taylor of Caroline (1753-1824) was one of the foremost philosophers of the States’ rights Jeffersonians of the early national period. In keeping with his lifelong mission as a “minority man,” John Taylor wrote Tyranny Unmasked not only to assault the protective tariff and the mercantilist policies of the times but also “to examine general principles in relation to commerce, political economy, and a free government.” Originally published in 1822, it is the only major work of Taylor’s that has never before been reprinted. As an early discussion of the principles of governmental power and their relationship to political economy and liberty, Tyranny Unmasked is an important primary source in the study of American history and political thought.

Law & Liberty May 15, 2018

How Easily Could the Trump Administration Change the Special Counsel Regulation?

One path to ending the Adminstration's legal troubles would be to change the special counsel regulation, but this poses challenges.

OLL November 21, 2011

Mozart’s Opera Marriage of Figaro (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

mozart.marriage.figaroMozart’s Opera Marriage of Figaro, containing the Italian text, with an English translation, and the Music of all of the Principal Airs (Boston: Oliver Ditson Co., 1888).

Liberty Review May 14, 2018

Resource rents and populism in resource-dependent economies

ELENA SEGHEZZA, GIOVANNI B. PITTALUGA EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY Abstract: A usual explanation for populism is the existence of bad institutions, with an autocratic regime dispelling opposition by distributing income to the ‘masses’ in the manner of the ‘bread and circuses’ of Imperial Rome. In Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, populist redistribution occurred in conjunction with […]

OLL | Quotations May 19, 2014

Tocqueville on Centralised Government in Canada and Decentralised Government in America (1856)


Law & Liberty May 17, 2018

Does Administrative Agency Adjudication Violate the Vesting of Judicial Power in the Courts (and Due Process)?

While the government may have discretion to act outside of the courts, its officers often will not, allowing due process to play out in the courts.

EconLog May 17, 2018

The Human Capital Purist Case Against Tax-Funded College, by Bryan Caplan

In the Soho Forum debate on "All government support of higher education should be abolished" , I heavily based my argument on the signaling model of education.  But if I were a human capital purist, I still would have defended the abolitionist position - albeit less triumphally.  Here's how:

  1. Prospective college students, unlike K-12 students, are adults - both legally and practically. 

  2. Hence, if they want to invest in themselves, they or their families can and should pay for it.  This would be a lot easier than it is today, because government subsidies have greatly inflated tuition.

  3. If prospective college students or their families don't have the money, they can borrow the money on the free market.  This will normally be doable as long as the investment is worthwhile.


OLL November 21, 2011

Self Help; with Illustrations of Character and Conduct (Samuel Smiles)

smiles.self.helpSelf Help; with Illustrations of Character and Conduct (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1863).

Law & Liberty May 17, 2018

A Pox on Both Your Houses, Part II: Anti-Originalist Historians

Historians' ready embrace of Madison’s Hand calls into question their purported qualifications for understanding constitutional history.

Liberty Review May 7, 2018

The Average Period of Production: The History and Rehabilitation of an Idea

PETER LEWIN & NICOLÁS CACHANOSKY JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT, Volume 40, Issue 1 Abstract: Austrian capital theory tried to capture the intuitive and basically undeniable importance that time plays in economic life, but arguably was diverted down a blind alley with Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk’s average period of production, a purely physical measure of […]

EconTalk May 14, 2018

Peter Boettke on Public Administration, Liberty, and the Proper Role of Government

10%20Laws%20of%20Trust.jpgPeter Boettke of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the proper role of the state in the economy. This is a wide-ranging conversation on political economy. Topics include Adam Smith's view of the state, the tension between the state as enabler of real vs. crony capitalism, the potential for the poor to flourish in a market economy, and the challenges of democracy.


Time: 1:12:46

OLL | Quotations May 8, 2014

Richard Overton argues that to submit to the unjust rule by another is to violate one's right of self ownership (1646)

Law & Liberty May 15, 2018

Announcing Liberty Classics

Liberty Classics is a new series of essays reviewing books in Liberty Fund's extensive catalog of publications.

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Shaftesbury's Illustrations

shaftesbury.illustrationThe The Characteristicks of Men, Manners, and Opinion (1737), included a number of illustrations in the book in order to complement the text. The exact meaning of these illustrations is not entirely clear. The illustration to the left is from the frontispiece of vol. 1.

Law & Liberty May 16, 2018

A Pox on Both Your Houses, Part I: Anti-Historical Originalists

If they are to maintain credibility with those who are not already sold on their views, originalists need to respect the discipline of history.

OLL | Quotations July 5, 2009

Beethoven's hero Florestan in the opera Fidelio laments the loss of his liberty for speaking the truth to power (1805)


Law & Liberty May 17, 2018

A Return to Heroes: Tom Wolfe was the Stoic Writer America Needed

There are no Greek demigods among us, but Tom Wolfe gave us heroes—the men who dare deal with the crazy consequences of our modern freedom.

OLL | Quotations October 9, 2005

Mary Wollstonecraft believes that women are no more naturally subservient than men and nobody, male or female, values freedom unless they have had to struggle to attain it (1792)

Mary Wollstonecraft

OLL | Liberty Matters May 1, 2018

Alan Kahan, "Limited Government, Unlimited Liberalism. Or, How Benjamin Constant was a Kantian After All" [May, 2018]

Liberty MattersIn this month's discussion Alan S. Kahan, Professor of British Civilization at the Université de Versailles/St. Quentin, argues that Benjamin Constant, like Immanuel Kant, analyzed politics from a double perspective. Kant divided his Metaphysics of Morals into what he called the "Doctrine of Right," about how human behavior affects other people, which is the business of the state, and the "Doctrine of Virtue," which relates to human beings' internal obligations, their motives and duties, which are not the state's business. In Constant this double perspective takes the form of strictly limiting the sphere in which it is legitimate for the state to act, the equivalent of Kant's doctrine of right, and of close attention to human moral and religious development, the equivalent of Kant's doctrine of virtue. For both Kant and Constant the state's sphere of action must be strictly limited. But the limits they impose on the state do not limit the scope of their commentary on the relationship between politics and religion and morals. Indeed, for Constant at least, a limited state must rest on a broad religious/moral foundation to survive. Alan Kahan is joined in the discussion by Aurelian Craiutu, professor of political science at Indiana University, Bloomington; Bryan Garsten, professor of political science and humanities at Yale University; and Jacob T. Levy, Professor of Political Theory in the department of philosophy at McGill University.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

OLL December 28, 2011

The Intellectual Portrait Series: A Conversation with Manuel Ayau (Manuel Ayau)

Manuel.AyauThe Intellectual Portrait Series: A Conversation with Manuel Ayau (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).