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.

Books

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 Evolution of Civilizations

By Carroll Quigley
Foreword by Harry J. Hogan
Selective Bibliography by William Marina

Carroll Quigley was a legendary teacher at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. His course on the history of civilization was extraordinary in its scope and in its impact on students.

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The Evolution of Civilizations

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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 August 18, 2017

The Truth-Seeking American

Orestes Augustus Brownson (1803-1876), one of the most prominent public intellectuals in America in the 19th century, is hardly a household name today. The late Peter Augustine Lawler, a brilliant political scientist, saw much of value in Brownson, and thought …

EconLog August 17, 2017

Fifty years ago, by Scott Sumner

Fifty years ago, the Red Guards were rampaging through the streets of Beijing. Chairman Mao issued weird, over-the-top statements about the evils of American capitalism. Free markets were seen as exploitation, as a sort of winner-take-all. Meanwhile, the US was trying to promote the ideology of open markets, emphasizing that trade is mutually beneficial.

So how about today? The FT quotes one of Trump's top advisors:

Steve Bannon, the brains behind Donald Trump's nationalist economic agenda, added to tensions roiling the White House by pouring scorn on his colleagues, rubbishing US policy on North Korea and pressing for the administration to be "maniacally focused" on "economic war with China". . . .

Law & Liberty August 18, 2017

Anatomy of an Economic Revolution

The Industrial Revolution resulted from a repudiation of the ancients—but not just the ancients. The “Great Enrichment” of the late 18th and 19th centuries was a fully “modern” rejection of the cultural inheritance of the Renaissance, to say nothing of …

OLL | Quotations December 4, 2005

The Earl of Shaftesbury states that civility and politeness is a consequence of liberty by which "we polish one another, and rub off our Corners and rough Sides" (1709)

Shaftesbury

Law & Liberty August 17, 2017

Cortisol and Punishment

Even before reading it, I knew in outline what the article in the June 8 New England Journal of Medicine would say. This could be seen from its title: “Heath Effects of Dramatic Societal Events—Ramifications of the Recent Presidential Election.”

EconLog August 16, 2017

Hummel on the Curse of Cash, by David Henderson

In "Anti-Paper Prophet: Comments on The Curse of Cash." Jeff Hummel has written an excellent response to Ken Rogoff's response to Hummel's review of his book The Curse of Cash. The whole thing is well worth reading. Here are the parts I found most striking.

When Rogoff gets to bona fide predatory acts within the underground economy, such as extortion, human trafficking, and violence associated with the drug trade, he descends primarily into lurid anecdotes. He fails to give even crude quantitative estimates to buttress his claim that eliminating cash would curtail these activities. As for corruption and bribery, Rogoff admits that they are really serious only in poorer countries--precisely where he also concedes that a premature elimination of cash would have dire economic consequences. In his discussion of terrorism, he admits that eliminating cash would have at best trivial impacts.

OLL November 21, 2011

The Tyranny of Socialism (Yves Guyot)

The Tyranny of Socialism, ed. J.H. Levy (London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1894).

Liberty Review August 13, 2017

Economic freedom and human capital investment

HORST FELDMANN JOURNAL OF INSTITUTIONAL ECONOMICS, Volume 13, Issue 2 Abstract: Using data from 1972 to 2011 on 109 countries, this paper empirically studies the impact of economic freedom on human capital investment. Enrollment in secondary education is used as a proxy for such investments. Controlling for a large number of other determinants of education, it […]

Law & Liberty August 15, 2017

Introducing Originalism: A Conversation with Ilan Wurman

Ilan Wurman joins this edition of Liberty Law Talk to discuss his new book, A Debt against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism.…

Liberty Review August 16, 2017

Adam Smith on Justice, Social Justice, and Ultimate Justice

JAMES R. OTTESON SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY AND POLICY, Volume 34, Issue 1 Abstract: Adam Smith argues that virtue falls into two broad categories: “justice,” which he calls a “negative” virtue because it principally comprises restraint from harming or injuring others; and “beneficence,” which he calls “positive” because it comprises the actions we ought to take to improve […]

Law & Liberty August 15, 2017

Showdown Coming over Antidiscrimination Law

A recent prediction in this space turned out to be premature. In my post about the Seventh Circuit’s en banc decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College[1]—which held that the word “sex” in Title VII of the Civil

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Thomas Clarkson and the Abolition of the Slave Trade

Abolition MapOne of the great movements for liberty was the abolitionist movement in the late 18th and 19th centuries. It was led by figures like the Quaker Thomas Clarkson who successfully agitated for the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. He wrote histories and other works which exposed the cruelty and inhumanity of slavery. In his History of the Abolition of the Slave-trade he used illustrations very effectively in order to make his case, as these examples show. One of the most striking illustration is a “map” showing all the intellectual streams which flowed into the movement which led to the abolition of the slave trade in 1808 and then ultimately the abolition of slavery itself in 1833.

Source: Thomas Clarkson, The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament, 2 vols. (London: L. Taylor, 1808). 2 vols.

EconLog August 16, 2017

Can the left and the right agree on a monetary reform plan?, by Scott Sumner

In recent years, the political situation in the US has become highly polarized. But I'm not convinced that this necessarily prevents the two sides from coming together on monetary policy. Consider:

  1. The idea of NGDP targeting has considerable (and growing) support on both the left and the right.

  2. David Beckworth recently interviewed Matt Yglesias (who might be described as center-left), and at one point David read from a piece Yglesias wrote in 2011:

Most important, for all the flaws in the right's current critique of the Fed, they're correct to point to the need for accountability. The idea of a central bank that's "independent" of day-to-day politics is a good one, but too often that's come to mean a central bank that's immune from criticism or meaningful supervision. The Federal Reserve System's current vague mandate needs to be replaced with a specific target, defined in law.

...

OLL | Quotations June 12, 2005

Herbert Spencer makes a distinction between the "militant type of society" based upon violence and the "industrial type of society" based upon peaceful economic activity (1882)

Herbert Spencer

Law & Liberty August 17, 2017

Public Meaning Trumpism

If President Trump’s indefensible and equivocating response to Charlottesville demonstrates anything, it is something of which conservatives—and originalists in particular—should have needed no reminder: Words, the vessels of truth for those burdened with this mortal coil and of political life

EconTalk August 14, 2017

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Work, Slavery, the Minority Rule, and Skin in the Game

NassimNicholasTaleb.pngNassim Nicholas Taleb talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the manuscript version of his forthcoming book, Skin in the Game. Topics discussed include the role of skin in the game in labor markets, the power of minorities, the Lindy effect, Taleb's blind spots and regrets, and the politics of globalization.

Play

Time: 1:24:40

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, vol. 1 (LF ed.) (Ludwig von Mises)

In the foreword to Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, Mises explains complex market phenomena as “the outcomes of countless conscious, purposive actions, choices, and preferences of individuals, each of whom was trying as best as he or she could under the circumstances to attain various wants and ends and to avoid undesired consequences.” It is individual choices in response to personal subjective value judgments that ultimately determine market phenomena—supply and demand, prices, the pattern of production, and even profits and losses. Although governments may presume to set “prices,” it is individuals who, by their actions and choices through competitive bidding for money, products, and services, actually determine “prices”. Thus, Mises presents economics—not as a study of material goods, services, and products—but as a study of human actions. He sees the science of human action, praxeology, as a science of reason and logic, which recognizes a regularity in the sequence and interrelationships among market phenomena. Mises defends the methodology of praxeology against the criticisms of Marxists, socialists, positivists, and mathematical statisticians. Mises attributes the tremendous technological progress and the consequent increase in wealth and general welfare in the last two centuries to the introduction of liberal government policies based on free-market economic teachings, creating an economic and political environment which permits individuals to pursue their respective goals in freedom and peace. Mises also explains the futility and counter-productiveness of government attempts to regulate, control, and equalize all people’s circumstances: “Men are born unequal and … it is precisely their inequality that generates social cooperation and civilization.”

OLL | Liberty Matters July 5, 2017

Matt Zwolinski, "William Graham Sumner – Liberty's Forgotten Man" (July 2017)

Liberty Matters History has not been kind to the legacy of William Graham Sumner. In his time (1840-1910), Sumner was one of the most prestigious and widely read libertarian intellectuals in the United States. Beyond his more technical academic work Sumner also wrote passionately and voluminously in defense of laissez faireon a wide range of social issues. His popular critique of protectionism, "The –ism Which Teaches that Waste Makes Wealth" (1885) and his denunciation of imperialism in "The Conquest of the United States by Spain" (1898) are two of his most impressive polemical works. Sumner's most sustained investigation of questions of economic policy and distributive justice appeared in a collection essays What Social Classes Owe to Each Other (1883) which includes his most famous single essay – "The Forgotten Man" (1884). Unfortunately, Sumner's intellectual legacy suffered essentially the same fate as that of his contemporary Herbert Spencer, and for much the same reason. From near-ubiquity and respectability, Sumner's ideas have descended into obscurity and disrepute. To the extent he is remembered at all today, it is mostly for his alleged "social Darwinism." In this essayMatt Zwolinski, professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego, examines the charge of social Darwinism, and, more generally, the nature of Sumner's views on redistribution and our responsibilities toward the poor and vulnerable, and concludes that the charge of social Darwinism is mistaken as applied to Sumner, whi is a principled libertarian, not a social Darwinist. Moreover, he is a libertarian who took special pains to demonstrate the ways in which a regime of liberty is especially beneficial to society's most vulnerable members. Matt is joined in the dicussion by Phillip W. Magness, a historian based in the Washington, D.C. region, Robert Leroux, professor of sociology at the University of Ottawa, and Fabio Rojas, professor of sociology at Indiana University.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

Law & Liberty August 17, 2017

Does the Right Share the Progressive View of History?

The right and left wings of the Republican and Democratic Parties do not appear to have symmetrical tactics. The right, usually in the House but often in the Senate,  refuses to compromise even when that refusal will generate a worse

OLL | Quotations January 12, 2010

Jefferson feared that it would only be a matter of time before the American system of government degenerated into a form of "elective despotism" (1785)

Thomas Jefferson

OLL November 21, 2011

The Writings of Thomas Paine, Vol. I (1774-1779) (Thomas Paine)

The Writings of Thomas Paine, Collected and Edited by Moncure Daniel Conway (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1894). Vol. 1.