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The Collected Liberty Matters: Nos. 1-10

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The first 10 Liberty Matters Online Discussions are available as a single file in a variety of ebook formats. This version has quite a few corrections, mainly updating the links to conform to the new OLL website’s format. It is just over 260,000 words and 400 pages long. The pictures on the title page are of some books we have in the archive room in the Liberty Fund Library.

Anthology: The Collected Liberty Matters: Nos. 1-10 (Jan. 2013 – July 2014)

The first 10 Liberty Matters Online Discussions are available as a single file in a variety of ebook formats. This version has quite a few corrections, mainly updating the links to conform to the new OLL website's format. It is just over 260,000 words and 400 pages long. The pictures on the title page are of some books we have in the archive room in the Liberty Fund Library.

The collection is called: The Collected Liberty Matters: Nos. 1-10 (Jan. 2013 – July 2014), ed. David M. Hart and Sheldon Richman (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2014). </titles/2629>.

The following topics have been discussed (more detailed descriptions are below):

  1. Eric Mack, “John Locke on Property” (January 2013)
  2. Geoffrey Brennan, “James Buchanan: An Assessment” (March, 2013)
  3. Roderick Long, “Gustave de Molinari’s Legacy for Liberty” (May, 2013)
  4. Robert Leroux, “Bastiat and Political Economy” (July, 2013)
  5. George H. Smith, “The System of Liberty” (September 2013)
  6. John Blundell, “Arthur Seldon and the Institute of Economic Affairs” (November, 2013)
  7. Lawrence White, “Ludwig von Mises’s The Theory of Money and Credit at 101” (January, 2014)
  8. Fernando R. Tesón, “Hugo Grotius on War and the State” (March, 2014)
  9. Aurelian Craiutu, “Tocqueville’s New Science of Politics Revisited” (May, 2014)
  10. Donald J. Boudreaux, “Deirdre McCloskey and Economists’ Ideas about Ideas” (July, 2014)

Each one is available in a variety of ebook formats here </titles/2516>.

The Liberty Matters Online Discussion Forum

1. Eric Mack, “John Locke on Property” (January 2013)

Summary: John Locke (1632-1704) is a key figure in the history of classical-liberal thought. His Second Treatise of Government (1689) is the canonical text in political philosophy that most extensively and systematically advances the classical-liberal themes of individual liberty, natural rights, private property, deep suspicion of political power, radical limitations on the scope of legitimate political authority, and rightful resistance against unjust and arbitrary power. Locke’s next most important work in political theory, A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), completes his fundamentally classical-liberal vision with arguments for religious toleration that readily generalize to the conclusion that the state has no authority to govern persons’ self-regarding actions or the activities of mutually consenting adults. This essay by Eric Mack of Tulane University examines the character and content of Locke’s central contentions about property. His essay is discussed by Jan Narveson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the University of Waterloo in Canada, Peter Vallentyne, Florence G. Kline Professor of Philosophy at the University of Missouri, and Michael Zuckert, Nancy R. Dreux Professor of Political Science at University of Notre Dame.

2. Geoffrey Brennan, “James Buchanan: An Assessment” (March, 2013)

Summary: To commemorate the recent death of James M. Buchanan (1919-2013) on January 9 a number of scholars will discuss his considerable contribution to economic and political theory, most notably his work on "public choice" and constitutionalism. The main essay is written by Geoffrey Brennan, professor in the Moral, Social and Political Theory Centre, Philosophy School, RSSS, Australian National University. Geoffrey Brennan, who worked closely with Buchanan for many years, deals first with Buchanan’s contractarianism and then turns to his theory of constitutionalism, trying to indicate how these two c’s are related. He then attempts to connect the “constitutional contractarian” project to Buchanan’s credentials as a classical liberal and raises a number of other queries about the intellectual scheme he created, including the double role of exchange, the nature of market operations, the supply of versus the demand for rules, chosen versus inherited rules, and "expressive constitutionalism." His essay is commented upon by Peter Boettke, University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University and the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center, Steven Horwitz, Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics and department chair at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, Loren Lomasky, Cory Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA., Edward Peter Stringham, the L.V. Hackley endowed professor for the Study of Capitalism and Free Enterprise at Fayetteville State University, North Carolina, and Viktor J. Vanberg, professor emeritus, Freiburg University, Germany, and member of the board of the Walter Eucken Institute in Freiburg.

3. Roderick Long, “Gustave de Molinari’s Legacy for Liberty” (May, 2013)

Summary: This discussion had its beginnings in a Liberty Fund conference on Molinari which was held in late 2012, the centennial year of his death. The discussants here were also at that conference and showed considerable interest in continuing that conversation online. Some of the topics which were raised at the conference were the following: Molinari between conservatism and socialism, eminent domain and the rights of labor, the competitive provision of security, religion and ethics, the evanescence of war, and the rise of autonomous communities. In his Lead Essay Roderick Long, Professor of Philosophy at Auburn University, President of the Molinari Institute and Molinari Society, and a Senior Scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, assesses Molinari's legacy, giving him a "hit" for his work on the competitive provision of security, his proposal for a system of labor exchanges, and his opposition to war and empire; and a "miss" for the weakness of the moral foundation of his philosophy, his hedonistic assumptions about human psychology, the historical inadequacy of his theory of political and economic evolution, and his theory of "tutelage" for those groups he believed were not yet ready for liberty. Long concludes that “for all his shortcomings, Molinari remains not only an interesting historical thinker, but also a vital lodestar for the liberty movement today.” His essay is commented upon by Gary Chartier, professor of law and business ethics and associate dean of the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business at La Sierra University in Riverside, California, David Friedman, Professor of Economics at Santa Clara University CA., David M. Hart, Director of the Online Library of Liberty Project at Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, IN. and editor of the Liberty Fund's translation of Molinari's Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare (1849), and Matt Zwolinski, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego, a co-director of USD’s Institute for Law and Philosophy.

4. Robert Leroux, “Bastiat and Political Economy” (July, 2013)

Summary: The historian and sociologist Robert Leroux, professor of sociology at the University of Ottawa, notes that Frédéric Bastiat’s intellectual legacy has been the subject of much debate since the mid-19th century. His thinking has given rise to the most divergent interpretations. We may say in general terms that his work has evoked two interpretations that are in constant conflict: The first treats Bastiat as a significant theorist, an instigator of new and original theories, with a well-earned place in the history of political economy; the other sees him primarily as simply a journalist or a polemicist. Robert Leroux argues that, in spite of resistance to his ideas and the neglect which he suffered in the late 19th and early 20th century, Bastiat was one of the most important liberal theorists of his time. He went far beyond what he was most famous for in his own day, namely campaigning for free trade in France, and made significant contributions to our understanding of the state, the law, freedom of the press and, more broadly yet, human nature. There are response essays by Donald J. Boudreaux, Donald J. Boudreaux is professor of economics and holder of the Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Michael C. Munger, professor of political science, and economics and public policy at Duke University, and David M. Hart, Director of the Online Library of Liberty Project at Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, IN. and academic editor of the Liberty Fund's translation of the Collected Works of Bastiat in 6 vols.

5. George H. Smith, “The System of Liberty” (September 2013)

Summary: This is a discussion of the independent scholar 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, namely, 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.

6. John Blundell, “Arthur Seldon and the Institute of Economic Affairs” (November, 2013)

Summary: John Blundell, who headed the IEA between 1993 and 2009, discusses the contribution of Arthur Seldon (1916-2005) to the success of the London based Institute of Economic Affairs in spreading free market ideas in Britain. He attributes much of its success to Seldon’s rigorous editing of material which turned technical economic language into jargon free prose which was readable by any educated person. In addition, Seldon’s vision was to secure the IEA a place midway between academia and the production of actual government policies. Responding to Blundell are Stephen Davies, the education director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Peter Boettke, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and Nigel Ashford, the Senior Program Officer at the Institute for Humane Studies in Arlington, Virginia. Ashford delves deeper into Seldon’s skill as an author and editor, Davies asks whether there can ever be another Seldon given the current structure of universities, and Boettke ponders why a similar entity has never emerged in the United States and what this says about the task of changing ideas about the role of government there.

7. Lawrence White, “Ludwig von Mises’s The Theory of Money and Credit at 101” (January, 2014)

Summary: 1912 was the 100th anniversary of the publication of Ludwig von Mises’ book Theorie des Geldes und der Umlaufsmittel (The Theory of Money and Credit). Lawrence H. White, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and a senior scholar at the Mercatus Center at GMU, discusses the importance of Mises’ work as the next step in the application of Austrian economic insights into monetary theory, and in the formulation of a unique Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle (ATBC) which was further developed by Friedrich Hayek and Murray Rothbard. The soundness of his theory of money is tested against the recent emergence of a new form of currency known as Bitcoin. His essay is commented upon by Jörg Guido Hülsmann, a professor of economics at the University of Angers in France, member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, Senior Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and director of the Austrian Economics Research Seminar in Paris; Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, professor in the economics department at San Jose State University; and George Selgin, a Professor of Economics at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

8. Fernando R. Tesón, “Hugo Grotius on War and the State” (March, 2014)

Summary: The place that Grotius holds in the history of international law and the laws which regulate war and peace is one that has been recognized at least since the 18th century, but more especially in the treaties and international agreements which emerged out of the major conflicts of the 20th century. In this discussion, Fernando R. Tesón, the Simon Eminent Scholar at Florida State University College of Law, explores what Grotius thought about the proper relationship between the laws of nature and the laws of nations, the limits (if any) which can be legitimately and rightly placed on the conduct of states engaged in war, and asks whether Grotius' insights have any relevance today. Tesón's essay is commented upon by Hans W. Blom, visiting professor in the history department of Potsdam University (Germany); Paul Carrese, professor of Political Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy; and Eric Mack, professor of philosophy at Tulane University and a faculty member of the University’s Murphy Institute of Political Economy.

9. Aurelian Craiutu, “Tocqueville’s New Science of Politics Revisited” (May, 2014)

Summary: Aurelian Craiutu, professor in the department of political science at Indiana University, Bloomington, and adjunct professor in the American Studies Program, argues that Tocqueville was not just an observer of democracy in America but also a theorist of democracy who wanted to create “a new science of politics” suitable to the new world which was beginning to take shape at that time. Craiutu points out four dimensions of Tocqueville’s new science of politics that might help us better understand his thinking. The first is that Tocqueville’s new science of politics is fundamentally cross-disciplinary, at the intersection of political science, sociology, anthropology, history, and philosophy. He then goes on to discuss the other dimensions such as its comparative, normative, and political dimensions. He concludes that his works must therefore be seen as belonging to a larger French tradition of political engagement and political rhetoric in which the writer enters into a subtle and complex pedagogical relationship with his audience, seeking to convince and inspire his readers to political action. This thesis is discussed by Daniel J. Mahoney, the Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship at Assumption College in Worcester, MA.; Filippo Sabetti, professor in the Department of Political Science at McGill University and a senior research fellow at the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University; and Jeremy R. Jennings, Professor of Political Theory at King's College London.

10. Donald J. Boudreaux, “Deirdre McCloskey and Economists’ Ideas about Ideas” (July, 2014)

Summary: The economist and economic historian Deirdre McCloskey is over the halfway point of her 3 volume work on The Bourgeois Era. Two volumes have already appeared, Bourgeois Virtues (2006) and Bourgeois Dignity (2010), and the third is close to appearing. Donald J. Boudreaux, senior fellow with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University, the Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center, assesses McCloskey's work and her claims about why “the Great Enrichment” of the past 150 years occurred in northern and western Europe rather than elsewhere, and why sometime in the middle of the 18th century. The role of the mergence of certain ideas which were favorable to economic activity versus the role of institutions is closely examined by Joel Mokyr, the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and a professor of economics and history at Northwestern University and Sackler Professor (by special appointment) at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at the University of Tel Aviv; John V. C. Nye, the Fredéric Bastiat Chair in Political Economy at the Mercatus Center, professor of economics at George Mason University, and research director at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Moscow. The third participant is Deirdre N. McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Professor of Economic History, Gothenburg University, Sweden, who responds to her critics.

Last modified August 20, 2014