By examining the thought of four seminal thinkers, Shirley Robin Letwin in The Pursuit of Certainty provides a brilliant record of the gradual change in the English-speaking peoples’ understanding of “what sort of activity politics is.” As Letwin writes, “the distinctive political issue since the eighteenth century has been whether government should do more or less.” Nor, as many historians argue, did this issue arise because of the Industrial Revolution or “new social conditions [that] aggravated the problem of poverty” but, Letwin believes, because of the “profoundly personal reflection” of major thinkers, including Hume, Bentham, Mill, and Webb. David Hume, for example, believed that to “reach for perfection, to seek an ideal, is noble, but dangerous, and is therefore an activity that individuals or voluntary groups may pursue, but governments certainly should not.”
Forty years after its original publication, Liberty Fund brings back to print Henry Veatch’s path-breaking popular presentation of virtue ethics. This modern interpretation of Aristotelian ethics is a natural for undergraduate philosophy courses. It is also an engaging work for the expert and the beginner alike, offering a middle ground between existential and analytic ethics.
The Rationale of Central Banking was first published in England in 1936. Vera Smith spent her professional career in a variety of research positions. She wrote articles and books on money, banking, economic development, and the labor market and translated into English books by Wilhelm Röpke, Oskar Morgenstern, and Fritz Machlup.
Rationalism in Politics established the late Michael Oakeshott as the leading conservative political theorist in modern Britain. This expanded collection of essays astutely points out the limits of “reason” in rationalist politics and criticizes ideological schemes to reform society according to supposedly “scientific” or rationalistic principles that ignore the wealth and variety of human experience.
In his foreword, Robert D. Tollison identifies the main objective of Geoffrey Brennan and James M. Buchanan’s The Reason of Rules: “. . . a book-length attempt to focus the energies of economists and other social analysts on the nature and function of the rules under which ordinary political life and market life function.”
Reflections on Ethics, Freedom, Welfare Economics, Policy, and the Legacy of Austrian Economics comprises a variety of Kirzner’s essays on social thought. Kirzner’s intellectual interest and theories go beyond market process and entrepreneurship: they encompass several important topics that are vital to the existence of human societies.
Originally published by Oxford University Press in the 1890s, the famed three-volume Payne edition of Select Works is universally revered by students of English history and political thought. Faithfully reproduced in each volume are E. J. Payne’s notes and introductory essays. Francis Canavan, one of the great Burke scholars of the twentieth century, has added forewords.
In 1759, at the height of the Seven Years’ War, when Great Britain was suffering a series of military reversals, Montagu considered his country’s plight in an historical context formed by the study of five ancient republics: Sparta, Athens, Thebes, Carthage, and Rome. Montagu’s focus on the ancient republics gives his contribution a distinctive twist to the chorus of voices lamenting Britain’s decline, and his analysis exerted influence in three momentous eighteenth-century crises: the Seven Years’ War, the American War of Independence, and the French Revolution. This is the first modern edition of Montagu’s work.
The fifth volume in The Selected Works of Gordon Tullock consists of six parts, each part expounding on a separate component of the field. Part 1, “Rent Seeking: An Overview,” brings together two papers that focus on problems of defining rent-seeking behavior and outline the nature of the ongoing research program in a historical perspective. Part 2, “More on Efficient Rent Seeking,” contains four contributions in which Tullock elaborates on his 1980 article on efficient rent seeking. Part 3, “The Environments of Rent Seeking,” consists of eight papers that collectively display the breadth of the rent-seeking concept. Part 4, “The Cost of Rent Seeking,” comprises seven papers that address several important issues about the cost of rent seeking to society as a whole. Part 5 is Tullock’s short monograph Exchanges and Contracts, in which he develops a systematic theory of exchange in political markets. In Part 6, “Future Directions for Rent-Seeking Research,” Tullock focuses on the importance of information in the political marketplace.
In The Representation of Business in English Literature, five scholars of different periods of English literature produce original essays on how business and businesspeople have been portrayed by novelists, starting in the eighteenth century and continuing to the end of the twentieth century. The contributors to Representation help readers understand the partiality of the various writers and, in so doing, explore the issue of what determines public opinion about business.
Alexander Hamilton, trusted military aide and secretary to General George Washington, wrote to persuade. He had the ability to clarify the complex issues of his time without oversimplifying them. From the basic core values established in his earlier writings to the more assertive vision of government in his mature work, we see how Hamilton’s thought responded to the emerging nation and how the nation was shaped by his ideas. This comprehensive collection of his early writings, from the period before and during the Revolutionary War, provides a fuller understanding of the development of his thinking.
The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams presents the principal shorter writings in which Adams addresses the prospect of revolution and the form of government proper to the new United States.