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 Lectures on the Relation between Law and Public Opinion in England during the Nineteenth Century

By A. V. Dicey
Edited and with an Introduction by Richard VandeWetering

This volume brings together a series of lectures A. V. Dicey first gave at Harvard Law School on the influence of public opinion in England during the nineteenth century and its impact on legislation. Dicey’s lectures were accurate as a reflection of the anxieties felt by turn-of-the-century Benthamite Liberals in the face of Socialist and New Liberal challenges.


Lectures on the Relation between Law and Public Opinion in England during the Nineteenth Century

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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 December 7, 2017

Cutting Corporate Tax Rates in 2018 or 2019: It Matters, by David Henderson

The important effect of incentives on allocation over time.

One of the differences between the House and Senate versions of the tax cut is whether the corporate tax rate falls in 2018 (House) or 2019 (Senate.) It might look as though it's no big deal. It might well be a big deal, partly economically and, deriving from the economics, partly politically.

You're someone deciding whether to start a new business that you think will make money the first year. Under the House version, the corporate tax rate falls to 20 percent in 2018. So if that provision is kept, you know you'll pay the corporate tax rate of 20 percent on your profits. But if the Senate version is kept, you'll pay, the first year, at 35 percent.

Hmmm. What to do if the Senate version is kept? Wait to invest until 2019. So, to whatever extent the tax cut does increase economic growth, some of that growth will wait until 2019. Why does that matter politically? The midterm elections.

OLL | Quotations July 12, 2010

Georg Jellinek argues that Lafayette was one of the driving forces behind the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789)

George Jellinek

Law & Liberty December 7, 2017

Phillips Likely to Win Masterpiece Cakeshop Case, Five Votes to Four

In no reasonable sense does Colorado have a compelling interest in requiring this baker to engage in speech to which he has religious objections.

Liberty Review November 5, 2017

Marsilius of Padua on Representation

MULIERI, A. HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 38, Number 4 Abstract: The concept of representation plays an important role in Marsilius of Padua’s major work, the Defensor Pacis. Yet, with a few notable exceptions,Marsilius’ concept of representation has received relatively little attention among recent scholars. The main purpose of this article is to fill this gap […]

EconTalk December 4, 2017

Rachel Laudan on Food Waste

food%20waste.jpg Historian Rachel Laudan talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about food waste. Laudan argues that much of the alleged wasting of food serves a purpose and reducing waste would have costs that exceed the benefits. She also discusses the role of food taboos and moralizing about food. Along the way, Laudan defends the virtue of individual choice and freedom in deciding what to eat.


Time: 1:01:50

OLL December 28, 2011

The Analects (Confucius)

AnalectsThe Analects of Confucius by William Edward Soothill (Yokohama: Fukuin Printing Co, 1910).

EconLog December 6, 2017

Why Addicts' Deaths Are Not a Social Cost of Opioid Consumption, by Contributing Guest

by Pierre Lemieux

...what does it mean to say that the loss of life is a cost for an individual?

drug scales.jpg The report published last month by the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) on the cost of the opioid crisis raises more questions than it answers. Mainly because it incorporates the estimated value of the lives lost through overdose (using the "value of a statistical life," in the standard cost-benefit jargon), the reports reaches a humongous figure of 2.8% of GDP, as much as 44 times previous estimates.

The major problem is that the CEA estimates the social cost of opioid consumption without even mentioning its benefits. Cost-benefit analysis, whose methodology the report claims to follow, has no meaning if only the social cost is calculated. The social benefit, which is the sum of individual benefits, must also enter into the calculation. Opioids must have some perceived benefits, and even perceived net benefits, for otherwise nobody would take the risk of consuming the stuff. It is reasonable to think, as Gary Becker's theory of rational addiction proposed, that an addict does not enjoy his addiction per se, but that it helps him face pre-existing personal problems that would otherwise be even more difficult to support; which is to say, it provides utility.

OLL December 28, 2011

Considérations sur les principaux événemens de la Révolution française, vol. 1 (Germaine de Staël)

Considérations sur les principaux événemens de la Révolution française, ouvrage posthume de Madame la Baronne de Staël, publié par M. le duc de Broglie et M. le baron de Staël. Seconde édition (Paris: Delaunay, 1818). Vol. 1.

Law & Liberty December 6, 2017

After Mugabe

Zimbabwe's possibilities include rejecting both the bad legacies of colonialism and Mugabe's authoritarian rule.

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 […]

Law & Liberty December 8, 2017

Lee Oser’s Oregon Confetti and the Redemption of Portlandia

"I always resisted cheap political fixes and utopian rhetoric. I adore John Lennon but 'Imagine' is a dreadful embarrassment—like Auden’s poem, 'Spain.'"

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Pufendorf and the Geometry of Morality



In Chapter XVIII of his Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence, Pufendorf makes an argument about the "geometry of moral actions", comparing them to the arc of a circle made by moving radii. In his own words:

And so, also, considered formally and precisely, one good action is not better than another, since, forsooth, nothing can be more right than the right, although, considered materially and on the score of its object, one action is superior to and nobler than another. But, since an evil action declines from the law, it assuredly is at a certain distance from the law, greater or less, from which a sin obtains the character of greater or less degree, as one deviation from a straight line is greater than a second. Now this divergence from the law is like neither length, breadth, nor depth, which can be measured by a straight line; but it resembles a rectilinear angle, whose magnitude is measured by the arc of a circle described from the point of intersection of the two sides as a centre, and intercepted by the aforesaid sides. For, as a rule of law, which, like a straight line, marks out by its course precisely what is to be done, has the character of the first side; so the determination of our will, which is always joined by our conscience to the rule of the law in what resembles the point of an angle, is the other side, which, if the action swerve aside from the law, has a certain angular distance, as it were, from the first side, and by this the degree of bad actions is estimated...

EconLog December 7, 2017

What's my core message?, by Scott Sumner

I am currently working on the final chapter of a book manuscript, tentatively entitled "The Money Illusion: Market Monetarism and the Great Recession." I am trying to identify my core message. What is the essence of my critique of mainstream macroeconomics? And why should anyone believe me? I'll offer a few thoughts, but I'd be very interested in your outside perspective. BTW, one thing is very clear to me----NGDP targeting is not at all a part of my core message, it's totally compatible with mainstream macro.

It seems to me that market monetarism has two components, the market part and the monetarism part. In my view, monetarism is the school of thought that says shifts in the supply and demand for money drive the most important macro phenomena, including key nominal variables like inflation and NGDP growth, as well as business cycle movements in RGDP and unemployment.

More importantly, monetarism argues that other schools of thought reify various contingent epiphenomena, confusing side effects with core mechanisms. Thus non-monetarists are inclined to look at phenomena like inflation through the lens of changes in interest rates, bank credit, and/or the Phillips Curve.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

Liberty, Order, and Justice (James McClellan)

McClellan.bookUnlike most textbooks in American Government, Liberty, Order, and Justice seeks to familiarize the student with the basic principles of the Constitution, and to explain their origin, meaning, and purpose. Particular emphasis is placed on federalism and the separation of powers. These features of the book, together with its extensive and unique historical illustrations, make this new edition of Liberty, Order, and Justice especially suitable for introductory classes in American Government and for high school students in advanced placement courses.

Liberty Review November 9, 2017

‘A Burthen Too Heavy For Humane Sufferance’: Locke on Reputation

STUART-BUTTLE, T. HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 38, Number 4 Abstract: Locke emphasized that a concern for reputation powerfully shaped the individual’s conduct. Most scholarship suggests that Locke portrayed this phenomenon in negative terms. This article complicates this picture. A concern for reputation served a constructive role in Locke’s theory of social development, which offered a […]

OLL | Quotations June 29, 2010

Kirzner defines economics as the reconciliation of conflicting ends given the existence of inescapable scarcity (1960)


Law & Liberty December 7, 2017

The Original Meaning and the Carpenter Case: Establishing Joint Ownership of Customer Records

Striking an agreement with your cell phone company could increase privacy protections for your records.

OLL | Quotations August 12, 2010

Spencer on voting in elections as a screen behind which the wirepullers turn the sovereign people into a puppet (1882)

Herbert Spencer

EconLog December 7, 2017

The Shining City on a Hill: Commentary on Reagan, by Bryan Caplan

cityhill.gifWhile wrapping up my graphic novel, I wound up reading Ronald Reagan's famous Farewell Address - his "Shining City on a Hill" speech.  Given my broader views, I obviously have some objections.  But I was amazed to read an actual presidential speech where I agreed with entire paragraphs.  Here's the abridged speech, with my commentary.  Reagan's in blockquotes, I'm not.

My fellow Americans:

This is the 34th time I'll speak to you from the Oval Office and the last. We've been together 8 years now, and soon it'll be time for me to go. But before I do, I wanted to share some thoughts, some of which I've been saving for a long time.


You know, down the hall and up the stairs from this office is the part of the White House where the President and his family live. There are a few favorite windows I have up there that I like to stand and look out of early in the morning...

I've been thinking a bit at that window. I've been reflecting on what the past 8 years have meant and mean. And the image that comes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one--a small story about a big ship, and a refugee, and a sailor. It was back in the early eighties, at the height of the boat people... As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas, one spied the sailor on deck, and stood up, and called out to him. He yelled, "Hello, American sailor. Hello, freedom man."

Law & Liberty December 8, 2017

Two Very Wrong Perspectives on Masterpiece Cakeshop

Subordinating the speech rights of those in commerce to a social movement overlooks the core principle of free speech.

EconTalk December 7, 2017

Have you worried about your food today?

Do you ever feel a pang of guilt when you throw food scraps in the trash? Do you hear your mother's voice reminding you of starving children in far-flung corners of the globe? Have you ever thought you should be composting? What different sorts of choices have you thought you should make? Counseled others to make? time waste.jpg This week's EconTalk guest, historian Rachel Laudan, argues that food waste has become a moral issue, and that's the wrong way to frame it. Laudan's conversation with host Russ Roberts tries to restructure the argument about food waste and make thinking about our food choices less "neurotic."

What are your thoughts on this week's episode? Are you comfortable in our current (American) food culture, or do you agree that the system is broken? We'd love to continue the conversation.

  1. Laudan says there is "a religious aspect" to the way people think about food choices. Roberts says it's all lexicographical. What do they mean, and what do you think has brought this state of affairs about? To what extent do you think the moralization of food choicesis permanent?

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".

OLL December 28, 2011

Commerce, Culture, and Liberty: Readings on Capitalism Before Adam Smith (Henry C. Clark)

commerce.culture.libertyCommerce, Culture, and Liberty: Readings on Capitalism before Adam Smith, ed. Henry C. Clark (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).