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 Envy

By Helmut Schoeck

This classic study is one of the few books to explore extensively the many facets of envy—“a drive which lies at the core of man’s life as a social being.” Ranging widely over literature, philosophy, psychology, and the social sciences, Professor Schoeck— a distinguished sociologist and anthropologist—elucidates both the constructive and destructive consequences of envy in social life. Perhaps most important, he demonstrates that not only the impetus toward a totalitarian regime but also the egalitarian impulse in democratic societies are alike in being rooted in envy.



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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 June 27, 2017

Six Degrees of Jim Buchanan

It is a dicey business for scholars housed at academic institutions to embark on projects to influence public opinion and practical politics. That is one of the relentless premises of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the

EconTalk June 26, 2017

Robin Feldman on Drug Patents, Generics, and Drug Wars

Drug%20Wars.jpgRobin Feldman of the University of California Hastings College of Law and author of Drug Wars talks about her book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Feldman explores the various ways that pharmaceutical companies try to reduce competition from generic drugs. The conversation includes a discussion of the Hatch-Waxman Act and the sometimes crazy world of patent protection.


Time: 1:05:22

EconLog June 26, 2017

Boudreaux on the Progressive Mentality, by Bryan Caplan

My dear colleague Don Boudreaux comments on my recent questions about the absence of libertarian/progressive cooperation:

As he so frequently does, Bryan here hits on its head an important nail solidly, cleanly, and with impressive force.

I suspect that the single biggest factor that distinguishes "Progressives" from libertarians and free-market conservatives is the simple fact that "Progressives" do not begin to grasp the reality of spontaneous order.  "Progressives" seem unable to appreciate the reality that productive and complex economic and social orders not only can, but do, emerge unplanned from the countless local decisions of individuals each pursuing his or her own individual plans.

Therefore, "Progressives" naturally adopt a creationist view of society and of the economy: without a conscious and visible (and well-intentioned) guiding hand, society and the economy cannot possibly work very well.  Indeed, it seems that for many (most?) "Progressives," the idea that a spontaneously ordered economy can work better than one directed consciously from above - or, indeed, that a spontaneously ordered economy can work at all - is so absurd that when "Progressives" encounter people who oppose "Progressive" schemes for regulating the economy, "Progressives" instantly and with great confidence conclude that their opponents are either stupid or, more often, evil cronies for the rich and the powerful.

Law & Liberty June 23, 2017

On the Road


Every year in early May, tens of thousands of people gather in Ocean City, Maryland, for Cruisin’ Ocean City, a weekend dedicated to vintage cars. For four days, Coastal Highway is jammed with classic Camaros, souped-up Corvettes, 1940s Fords,

OLL | Quotations September 8, 2015

William Cobbett denounces the destruction of liberty during and after the Napoleonic Wars (1817)

William Cobbett denounces the destruction of liberty during and after the Napoleonic Wars (1817)

EconLog June 27, 2017

Nancy MacLean's Distortion of James Buchanan's Statement, by David Henderson

My Econlib colleague Russ Roberts has pointed to a passage of Nancy MacLean's recent book, Democracy in Chains: A Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America, in which Professor MacLean left key words out of a quote from Tyler Cowen, thus seriously distorting his meaning.

A Facebook friend, Christopher Fleming, has pointed out that she has done the same thing with a quote from James Buchanan, the main player in her book. See if you can tell the difference between what he says and what she claims he says.

Here's Buchanan, unedited, from "Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative":

The classical liberal is necessarily vulnerable to the charge that he lacks compassion in behavior toward fellow human beings - a quality that may describe the conservative position, along with others that involve paternalism on any grounds. George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" can be articulated and defended as a meaningful normative stance. The comparable term "compassionate classical liberalism" would approach oxymoronic classification. There is no halfway house here; other persons are to be treated as natural equals, deserving of equal respect and individually responsible for their actions, or they are to be treated as subordinate members of the species, akin to that accorded animals who are dependent. In a very early comment, Dennis Mueller noted that there was nothing in the Rawlsian principles of justice that would condemn a person for beating his dog. Nor should there have been. The Rawlsian discourse was strictly within the classical liberal framework, with natural equality among persons remaining a basic presupposition of the whole enterprise.

Liberty Review June 22, 2017

Culture, Politics, and Economic Development

PAUL COLLIER ANNUAL REVIEW OF POLITICAL SCIENCE Abstract: For a generation, political science has been dominated by the analysis of interests within the framework of rational choice. Although this has enabled major advances, it struggles to provide a plausible analysis of many instances of sociopolitical dysfunction. This article reviews recent innovations in economics, psychology, and economic […]

EconLog June 26, 2017

How should we measure productivity?, by Scott Sumner

The Financial Times has an article claiming that Japanese construction workers are far more productive than American workers. But the data they provide seems to suggest the exact opposite:

Reality is the other way around. Despite radically different demographics and essentially no immigration, Japan has consistently employed a much larger share of its workers in the construction industry than the US, although the share has dropped over time. Even at the peak of America's housing bubble, only about 5.5 per cent of workers were employed in construction. In Japan last year, more than 7 per cent of employees worked in constructionSo how can they claim that Japanese workers are more productive than American workers? The article points out that Japan builds far more houses per capita than the US, indeed almost as many houses in total, despite a population only 40% of the US. But why is that? Given that Japan's population is falling, one might expect exactly the opposite. The article attributes the difference to cultural preferences:> My colleague Robin Harding has elegantly explained that much of the robust demand for new housing can be attributed to the Japanese preference for tearing down and replacing old homes, with the expectation those too will be replaced in short order.Why are these old homes replaced so often? I live in a home built in 1930, which certainly does not need to be torn down and replaced, indeed any replacement would likely be of lower quality.

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Law & Liberty June 26, 2017

Why Trinity Lutheran is the Most Important Case of the 2016 Term

Trinity Lutheran v. Comer was the most important case of this Supreme Court term both because of its effects on educational policy and on the future character of the American polity.  There a six-member Court majority held that Missouri could

Liberty Review June 26, 2017

Judaism and Liberalism: Israel’s Economic Problem with its Haredim

DAVID CONWAY ECONOMIC AFFAIRS, Volume 37, Issue 2 Abstract: This article argues that, in the arrangements for the public provision of welfare for the poor and a basic education for all in both biblical and post-biblical times, Judaism is more closely in accord with classical liberalism than it is with those variants of liberalism which favour […]

OLL January 19, 2016

BOLL 72: "Three Agreements of the People" (1647-49) (John Lilburne)

The Best of the OLL No. 72: “Three Agreements of the People” (1647-49) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2016).

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Brueghel, Taxes, and the Numeration of the People of Bethlehem (1566)




Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569) was a Flemish painter famous for his landscapes and depictions of peasant life. In this painting, "The Numeration (Census) of the People of Bethlehem" (1566), he takes Luke's account of the birth of Jesus in the town of Bethlehem and transposes it to mid-16th century Netherlands. In the Gospel of Luke (2: 1-7) it is stated that the reason Jesus was born in Bethlehem was because his parents were ordered by Emperor Augustus to return to their ancestral village at a time when Mary was pregnant, thus linking the founding story of the Christian religion with Roman imperial economic policy:

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Law & Liberty June 26, 2017

Ending the Fed’s Permanent Inflation Policy


The Federal Reserve Board seeks to maintain an inflation rate around two percent per year. While this rate might sound low for older types who remember double-digit inflation rates in the late 70s and early 80s, and a rate of

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

Justice and Its Surroundings (Anthony de Jasay)

Author of The State, Anthony de Jasay, has been described as one of the few genuinely original minds in modern political philosophy. He breaks new ground with Justice and Its Surroundings - a new collection of essays that seek to redefine the concept of justice and to highlight the frontier between it and other notions which are mistakenly associated with it, such as fairness, equality, or moral intuition.

OLL | Liberty Matters May 18, 2017

George H. Smith, "The System of Liberty" (September 2013)

This is a discussion of George H. Smith’s new book The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism published by Cambridge University Press (2013). Smith describes how he came to write the book, the works of the history of political thought which inspired him (in particular the writings of the German legal historian Otto von Gierke), and the methodology he uses in approaching the history of ideas (Locke’s idea of “the presumption of coherence”). He demonstrates his approach with a brief discussion of one of the key ideas he has identified in the history of classical liberal thought, namley, the idea of “inalienable rights,” or to phrase it in the terminology of 17th century natural rights philosophers like Pufendorf, the distinction between “perfect and imperfect rights.” His essay is discussed by Jason Brennan, assistant professor of strategy, economics, ethics, and public policy at Georgetown University; David Gordon, Senior Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute; and Ralph Raico, Professor Emeritus of History at the Buffalo State College.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".