Liberty Fund is pleased to make available in paperback eight of the original thirty-three cloth volumes of the Collected Works of John Stuart Mill that were first published by the University of Toronto Press that remain most relevant to liberty and responsibility in the twenty-first century. Born in London in 1806 and educated at the knee of his father, the Scottish philosopher James Mill, John Stuart Mill became one of the nineteenth century’s most influential writers on economics and social philosophy.
“The Law,” “The State,” and Other Political Writings, 1843–1850, collects nineteen of Bastiat’s “pamphlets,” or articles, ranging from the theory of value and rent, public choice and collective action, government intervention and regulation, the balance of trade, education, and trade unions to price controls, capital and growth, and taxation. Many of these are topics still relevant and debated today.
Theory and History is primarily a critique of Karl Marx, his materialism, and his prediction of the inevitability of socialism. Marx attributes the creation of tools and machines, as well as the economic structure of society, to undefined “material productive forces.” Mises rejects this materialistic view; he points out that tools and machines are actually created by individuals acting on the basis of non-materialistic ideas.
The Theory of Money and Credit integrated monetary theory into the main body of economic analysis for the first time, providing fresh, new insights into the nature of money and its role in the economy and bringing Mises into the front rank of European economists.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith’s first and in his own mind most important work, outlines his view of proper conduct and the institutions and sentiments that make men virtuous. Here he develops his doctrine of the impartial spectator, whose hypothetical disinterested judgment we must use to distinguish right from wrong in any given situation. We by nature pursue our self-interest, according to Smith. This makes independence or self-command an instinctive good, and neutral rules as difficult to craft as they are necessary. But society is not held together merely by neutral rules; it is held together by sympathy. Smith argues that we naturally share the emotions and to a certain extent the physical sensations we witness in others. Sharing the sensations of our fellows, we seek to maximize their pleasures and minimize their pains so that we may share in their joys and enjoy their expressions of affection and approval.
A Treatise on Political Economy by Antoine Louis Claude Destutt de Tracy (1754–1836) is a foundational text of nineteenth-century, free-market economic thought and remains one of the classics of nineteenth-century French economic liberalism. Destutt de Tracy was one of the founders of the classical liberal republican group known as the Idéologues, which included Jean-Baptiste Say, Marquis de Condorcet, and Pierre Cabanis.
In The Trend of Economic Thinking Hayek presents many of the figures that influenced the development of his economic thought. The articles range from well-known economists such as Mandeville, Hume, Smith, and Bastiat, to lesser-known figures such as Dupuit and Gossen, showing the breadth of Hayek’s study of the history of economic thought.
In this volume, Mises argued that economics is a science because human action is a natural order of life and that it is the actions of humans that determine markets and capital decisions. Since Mises believed these links could be proven scientifically, he concluded that economics, with its basis on that human action, is indeed a science in its own right and not an ideology or a metaphysical doctrine.
“No one has ever done price theory better than Alchian—that is, no one has ever excelled Alchian’s ability to explain the reason, role, and nuances of prices, of competition, and of property rights. And only a precious few—I can count them on my fingers—have a claim for being considered to have done price theory as well as he did it.” —Donald Boudreaux, George Mason University
Editor Charles Rowley calls Gordon Tullock “an economist by nature rather than by training.” Tullock attended a one-semester course in economics for law students at the University of Chicago but is otherwise self-taught. Tullock’s background has enabled him to analyze economic problems with an open mind and to deploy his formidable intellect in a truly entrepreneurial manner.
The Virtues of Capitalism lays the foundation of his views and theories of capitalism and its alternatives. The first part, Corrigible Capitalism; Incorrigible Socialism, was first published in 1980. It explains why, Seldon believes, “private enterprise is imperfect but redeemable,” but the “state economy promises the earth, and ends in coercion to conceal its incurable failure.”
Volume 6 of The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon examines the failure of state-supported welfare programs to benefit the people most in need of help. The eight articles and one book in this volume encompass almost forty years of criticism of the welfare state.