Observations on “The Two Sons of Oil” was written in 1811 in response to the Reverend Samuel B. Wylie’s work, The Two Sons of Oil, which was published in 1803. In this work of radical Presbyterian theology, Wylie pointed out what he considered to be deficiencies in the constitutions of both Pennsylvania and the United States and declared them to be immoral.
Originally published in 1742, Observations upon Liberal Education is a significant contribution to the Scottish Enlightenment and the moral-sense school of Scottish philosophy.
Samuel Pufendorf’s Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion (published in Latin in 1687) is a major work on the separation of politics and religion. Written in response to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by the French king Louis XIV, Pufendorf contests the right of the sovereign to control the religion of his subjects, because state and religion pursue wholly different ends. He concludes that, when rulers transgress their bounds, subjects have a right to defend their religion, even by the force of arms.
Published in 1944, during World War II, Omnipotent Government was Mises’s first book written and published after he arrived in the United States. In this volume Mises provides in economic terms an explanation of the international conflicts that caused both world wars. Although written more than half a century ago, Mises’s main theme still stands: government interference in the economy leads to conflicts and wars. According to Mises, the last and best hope for peace is liberalism—the philosophy of liberty, free markets, limited government, and democracy.
Jacques Necker (1732–1804) was a Swiss statesman and financier who played a crucial role in French political life from 1776 to 1789. Born in Geneva, he was a devout Protestant who amassed considerable wealth as a successful banker. In October 1776, he was appointed as director of the Royal Treasury and, later, in June 1777, as director general of finances of France under Louis XVI. While in charge of the finances of the kingdom, his most famous decision, in 1781, was to make public the budget of France for the first time, a novel practice in an absolute monarchy.
In five essays, including three on historiography, one of the greatest minds in English political thought in the twentieth century explores themes central to the human experience: the nature of history, the rule of law, and the quest for power that is intrinsic to the human condition. Michael Oakeshott believed, as Timothy Fuller observes, that “the historian’s effort to understand the past without ulterior motive [is the] effort which distinguishes the historian from all who examine the past for the guidance they expect it to provide about practical concerns.”
William Graham Sumner is the “forgotten man” of American intellectual history. Too often dismissed or only superficially understood, his interpretations are now attracting closer scrutiny and appreciation. He is remembered chiefly as one of the founding fathers of sociology.
Documenting the process by which government and controlling majorities have grown increasingly powerful and tyrannical, Bertrand de Jouvenel demonstrates how democracies have failed to limit the powers of government. Jouvenel traces this development to the days of royal absolutism, which established large administrative bureaucracies and thus laid the foundation of the modern omnipotent state.
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.”
Robert Bellarmine was one of the most original and influential political theorists of his time. His writings present coherent definitions of the nature and aim of temporal authority and its relationship to spiritual authority.
The three treatises in On the Manipulation of Money and Credit were written in German between 1923 and 1931. Together they include some of Mises’s most important contributions to monetary and trade-cycle theories and constitute a precursor to Mises’s major work, Human Action.
On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation provides analysis of the allocation of money between capitalists, landowners, and agricultural workers in Britain. Through this analysis, Ricardo came to advocate free trade and oppose Britain’s restrictive “Corn laws.” Here are his classic commentaries on certain points of contention and divergence with the political economic writings of Adam Smith and T. R. Malthus.