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 On Religion

By Benjamin Constant
Translated by Peter Paul Seaton Jr.
Introduction by Pierre Manent

This is the first full-length English translation of Benjamin Constant’s massive study of humanity’s religious forms and development, published in five volumes between 1824 and 1831. Constant (1767–1830) regarded On Religion, worked on over the course of many years, as perhaps his most important philosophical work. He called it “the only interest, the only consolation of my life,” and “the book that I was destined by nature to write.”


On Religion

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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 December 15, 2017

From California Dreaming to California Leaving

Focusing on the long-term causes of California's plight the New York Times is offering its readers the journalistic equivalent of comfort food.

EconLog December 15, 2017

Free Trade Agreements v Unilateral Free Trade, by Contributing Guest

by Pierre Lemieux

In order to be useful...a free trade agreement must further free trade more than it restricts it through international standards and regulatory harmonization.
The current renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) raises two sorts of questions. First, is NAFTA a free trade agreement? Will it be a free trade agreement after it is renegotiated? Second, do we need free trade agreements to have free trade? (Addressing the second question may answer some of the reader comments on my recent post about comparative advantage.) I am using "free trade agreements" loosely to include all forms of reciprocity, that is, situations where one country opens its borders to another one only if the latter reciprocates.

On the first set of questions, NAFTA has reduced barriers and increased trade among the three partner countries - the United States, Canada, and Mexico. US exports to NAFTA countries have increased from about 2% of GDP to more than 2.5%. In a regional or plurilateral trade agreement (as opposed to a world treaty like the ones administered by the World Trade Organization), a trade diversion effect (diverting trade from other countries) can reduce or eliminate the trade creation effect, but this is less likely in NAFTA's continental-wide trade.

Law & Liberty December 15, 2017

Is Pulp Fiction Now More Accurate Than Journalism?

Degradation of the craft of journalism in favor of punditry is why novels like The Cuban Affair and Use of Force come across as a more solid source of information.

EconTalk December 14, 2017

You Gotta Love Irene Triplett

entitlement.jpg If you're unhappy about the growth of government entitlement programs, perhaps it's time you stop harping on the New Deal. According to this week's EconTalk guest, John Cogan, you'll need to look back a lot further...a lot further.

What can the history of the federal governments role in transfer payments teach us about tax reform today? How much of a safety net should the government provide for its citizens? These are complicated questions. So take a trip back in time with us this week, and examine your own thoughts about transfer payment programs then and now.

Please share your thoughts with us...Respond to our prompts in the Comments below, or consider using these questions with your class or your friends. Let's continue the conversation.

  1. How did the veterans' benefit program instituted after the American Revolution come to set the pattern for all US entitlement programs to follow? How does Cogan distinguish this entitlement trend from the one begun in the wake of the Great Depression?

Law & Liberty December 14, 2017

I Have Seen London’s Future and It Is Caracas

Brexit's hope for the UK was in becoming a country of greater liberty and responsibility and there is scant evidence of that happening.

EconTalk December 10, 2017

John Cogan on Entitlements and the High Cost of Good Intentions

High%20Cost.jpgJohn Cogan of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Cogan's book, The High Cost of Good Intentions, a history of U.S. entitlement policy. Cogan traces the evolution of government pensions beginning with Revolutionary War vets to the birth and evolution of the Social Security program. Surprises along the way include President Franklin Roosevelt as fiscal conservative and the hard-to-believe but true fact that there is still one person receiving monthly checks from the Civil War veterans pension program. The conversation concludes with Cogan's concerns over the growing costs of financing social security payments to baby boomers.


Time: 1:06:08

Liberty Review December 11, 2017

Socialized View of Man vs. Rational Choice Theory: What Does Smith’s Sympathy Have to Say?

JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC BEHAVIOR & ORGANIZATION ELIAS L. KHALIL Abstract: To explain the anomaly of cooperation in finitely repeated games, some economists advance a socialized view of man as an antidote to rational choice theory. This paper confronts these economists insofar as they trace the socialized view to Smith’s theory of sympathy in The Theory of Moral […]

Law & Liberty December 14, 2017

The Dance of Judges and Publics

The judge is always caught in an intricate dance of power between opinion and the Constitution.

OLL | Quotations September 13, 2009

Samuel Smiles on how an idle, thriftless, or drunken man can, and should, improve himself through self-help and not by means of the state (1859).

Samuel Smiles

OLL November 21, 2011

Some Aspects of the Tariff Question (Frank William Taussig)

tariff.chartSome Aspects of the Tariff Question (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1915).

EconLog December 14, 2017

Rogoff's Alternative to the Wall, by David Henderson

Cash also plays a role in the illegal immigration problem that bedevils countries like the United States. It is incredible that some politicians talk seriously about building huge border fences, yet no one seems to realize that a far more humane and effective approach would be to make it difficult for U.S. employers to use cash to pay ineligible workers off the books and often below the minimum wage. Jobs are the big magnet that drives the whole process.This is from the introduction to Kenneth S. Rogoff, The Curse of Cash. Rogoff is a prominent economics professor at Harvard University and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.

At a recent Liberty Fund conference in San Antonio where I was the discussion leader, and where chapters from Rogoff constituted 30% to 40% of the readings, I highlighted Rogoff's thoughts on immigration. I had missed this passage above until my friend Jeff Hummel pointed it out.

OLL | Quotations September 6, 2009

James Mill on the natural disposition to accumulate property (1808).

James Mill

OLL November 21, 2011

Liberty of the Press (1825) (James Mill)

“Liberty of the Press” in Supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica (London: J. Innes, 1825).

EconLog December 14, 2017

Doherty on libertarians and Bitcoin, by Alberto Mingardi

I think it was Baron Nathan Rothschild who used to answer the question "how did you get rich?" with "I always sell too soon". That may not apply to Bitcoin early adopters, who are the subject of a fascinating piece by Brian Doherty. Doherty has long been a most passionate and capable historian of the libertarian movement (read his Radicals for Capitalism) and here he is writing perhaps a new chapter.

blockchain.jpg We will see with time how what has been hailed as Bitcoin's institutionalisation, the fact that now you can trade futures on Bitcoin, will impact the prize. So far, a Doherty writes, the impression is that "you will always regret using Bitcoin". The price has been and is quite volatile but you just have to think about this year's performance (basically, it grew twenty times) to understand the reasons for regret.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

The American Republic: Primary Sources (Bruce Frohnen)

American RepublicThe American Republic is an excellent textbook for classroom use which provides, in a single volume, critical, original documents revealing the character of American discourse on the nature and importance of local government, the purposes of federal union, and the role of religion and tradition in forming America’s drive for liberty.

Law & Liberty December 12, 2017

Is Liberty “Natural”?

Our idea of liberty has simply become confused, even deranged.

OLL | Quotations September 20, 2009

Charles Darwin on life as a spontaneous order which emerged by the operation of natural laws (1859)


OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

New Playing Cards for the French Republic (1793-94)



The Spirit of Peace | Motto: "Prosperity"
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The Spirit of Commerce | Motto: "Wealth"
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Law & Liberty December 15, 2017

Just Trust the Bureaucrats

Progressive faith in government ignores the abuses of power that people with power commit.

Liberty Review December 4, 2017

Ludwig Lachmann’s peculiar status within Austrian economics

VIRGIL HENRY STORR THE REVIEW OF AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS Abstract: Lachmann occupies a strange position within modern Austrian economics. He is viewed as something of an outsider and his views are often regarded as outside the mainline of modern Austrian thought. But, on several key issues – especially subjectivism and institutions – Lachmann’s positions are the dominant […]

OLL November 21, 2011

Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 3 (Harriet Martineau)

Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1832). Vol. 3.

EconLog December 13, 2017

Tyler Cowen and the Four Blind Men, by Scott Sumner

Tyler Cowen has an excellent new video out that looks at four schools of thought in business cycle theory, with application to the Great Recession. I agree with most of the specifics in the video, but differ in how to interpret the bigger picture. I'll try to explain why.

Tyler starts with the metaphor of 4 blind men trying to understand the nature of an elephant, each touching a different part of the beast. The implication is that each of these four perspectives offers something useful, and we should not confine our view to just one perspective. The wise man takes an eclectic view of things.

I see the video as mixing up very different types of disagreement. Consider his description of the 4 views:

  1. Keynesian: Focus on shortfall in aggregate demand, look at C+I+G factors.

  2. Monetarist: Also look at AD, but see unstable monetary policy as the root cause.

  3. Real Business Cycle: Slowing productivity growth before the 2008 recession helps explain the instability of AD. Taxes and subsidies slowed the recovery.

  4. Austrian: Government programs encouraged home lending, led to malinvestment. Fed policy was too stimulative before the recession.

OLL | Liberty Matters November 1, 2017

Peter Boettke, "Gordon Tullock and the Rational Choice Commitment" (November, 2017)

Liberty MattersThis month's discussion looks at the work of the political economist Gordon Tullock who saw himself very much in the tradition of Mises – a praxeologist who from a methodologically individualistic perspective would study human action across all social arrangements.  Tullock's subject matter was humanity in all settings, and that included not just markets, but non-market settings such as law, politics, and charity.  Along the way he made fundamental contributions to the theory of bureaucracy, constitutional construction, judicial decision-making, voting behavior, lobbying, scientific organization, redistribution, and even sociobiology. The Lead Essay is by Peter J. Boettke, University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, and he is joined by Peter Kurril-Klitgard, Professor of Political Theory and Comparative Politics at the Dept. of Political Science of the University of Copenhagen, David M. Levy, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and Michael Munger, director of the PPE Program at Duke University and professor of political science, economics, and public policy.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

Liberty Review December 28, 2016

The Influence of Patents on Science

J. TRERISE POLITICS, PHILOSOPHY, AND ECONOMICS, Volume 15, Issue 4 Abstract: This paper is a critique of the current US patent system along general consequentialist lines. I present a pro tanto case against it because of its effects on scientific inquiry. The patent system is often thought to be justified (or necessary) because it provides incentives […]