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17th Century Natural Rights Theorists

19 items

The 17th century was an important period in the development of natural law theories. The crises and revolutions of the mid-century prompted many thinkers to see civil and economic relations as being based on natural law and natural…

18th Century Commonwealthmen

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According to Caroline Robbins, the 18thC Commonwealthmen built upon the Old or Real Whig tradition and were active from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the eve of the American Revolution in 1776. They believed in natural rights,…

19th Century French Liberalism

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Between the French Revolution and the First World War France produced an impressive group of classical liberal and conservative writers. They focused on the problems of creating a constitutional limited government, the issue of free…

19th Century Natural Rights Theorists

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Up until the 19th century the dominant grounds for defending individual liberty had been that of natural rights. Jeremy Bentham and his followers in the first half of the 19th century shifted the grounds to that of utility, viz. that…

19th Century Utilitarians

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The Utilitarians were 19th century British political theorists and journalists who believed that the principle which should govern the actions of government is that which will produce “the greatest happiness of the greatest number”…


20 items

Political, economic, and philosophical ideas are often expressed through works of art. The art collected in the OLL gives us another history of liberty to read–a history written with etchings, paints, pastels, and even carved in…

Debate about the French Revolution

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The publication of Richard Price’s sermon on “A Discourse on the Love of Our Country” in November 1789, in which he praised both the American and the French Revolutions, prompted Edmund Burke to write his critique of the French…

Divine Right of Kings vs. Individual Rights

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Does the legitimacy of government depend on the divinely instituted right of the monarch to rule or upon the natural rights of man and the consent of the governed? Debate on this issue spurred the English Civil War and continued long…


860 items

Classic works in the discipline are joined by explorations of how economic reasoning applies to political science and other social sciences, as well as the relevance of economics as moral philosophy. A consistent theme is the view…


42 items

Debates about education go far beyond the classroom and consider the way an understanding of education affects the human condition, while placing an emphasis on the advancement of society. Some of the questions our authors raise are:…

Fabian Socialism vs. Radical Liberalism

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In the late 19th century the classical liberal, free market orthodoxy was beginning to be challenged by socialists like George Bernard Shaw, who put together a collection of essays in 1889 advocating greater intervention by the state…

French Enlightenment

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During the 18th century there emerged in the French-speaking world a widespread movement of criticism of existing institutions and beliefs which came to be called the “Enlightenment”. The objects of enlightened criticism ranged from…

French Physiocrats

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The Physiocrats were French economists who were advocates of free trade and deregulation before the French Revolution. Their name came from their belief that the economy operated according to the laws of nature which were…

French Revolution

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Like the American Revolution (1775-1783), the French Revolution (1789-1815), had its roots in the Enlightenment and attempted to put enlightened ideas about individual liberty and constitutional government into practice. That one…


624 items

Whether it is David Hume’s eighteenth-century account of English history stretching from Julius Caesar to the Glorious Revolution or Edmund Burke’s analysis of the American and French Revolutions as he watched them unfold, our…

IHS Studies in Economic Theory

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Studies in Economic Theory was a collection of works edited by Laurence S. Moss and published by the Institute for Humane Studies in the mid- and late-1970s. These books were squarely within the Austrian tradition of economic…

Intellectual Portrait Series

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Liberty Fund recorded conversations with two dozen of the most original thinkers about liberty of our times, and these conversations are available on audio and/or video online. They included Armen A. Alchian, Manuel Ayau, Jacques…

Interviews with Authors and Academics

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This is an ongoing series of interviews with Liberty Fund authors and academics on their work and its relationship to the study of liberty.

Magna Carta

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Magna Carta (1215) is one of the core documents of Anglo-American legal and constitutional liberty. The books in this collection contain various copies of the charter (in both Latin and English) as well as essays about its…

Manchester School Political Economy

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The name “Manchester School” is given to the group of economists, businessmen, and lobbyists who campaigned in England in the mid-19th century for free trade, reduced government regulation of the economy (in other words for a policy…

Natural Law and Enlightenment Series

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The intellectual struggle to articulate the theory of classical liberalism was often as hard fought as the physical battle for its political realization. The Natural Law and Enlightenment Classics Series presents not only some of the…

Natural Law and Natural Rights

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The natural law and natural rights tradition emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries and argues that the world is governed by natural laws which are discoverable by human reason. A key aspect of this intellectual tradition is the…

One Volume Surveys of Classical Liberalism

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This is a list of one volume surveys of the classical liberal position which have appeared over the past two centuries. The defining characteristic is that they are an attempt to provide the reader with a survey of the basic…

Opera and Liberty

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Many operas deal with the themes of liberty and oppression. We have gathered our collection of opera libretti here.

Philosophical Radicals

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The Philosophical Radicals were a group of British reformers in the early and mid-19th century who were inspired by the ideas of Jeremy Bentham. Their group included James Mill, Francis Place, George Grote, John Stuart Mill, and…


435 items

What does it mean to be a human? What is the best life to live, and how can we live it? These questions, and the texts which explore them, have long guided humanity in its struggle to understand itself.

Political Theory

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Political theory encompasses debates over such issues as self-government, the rule of law, and constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press. From foundational writings to twentieth century perspectives, OLL’s…

Protestant Reformation

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The Protestant Reformation was the European religious movement which appeared in the early 16th century and which sought to reform what was regarded as serious problems within the Catholic Church. These problems were doctrinal,…


393 items

Liberty is an idea and an idealized state of being that can be traced through many of the religious traditions of the world. Across time periods, theological differences, and cultural contexts, many different religious thinkers have…


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The right to inquire freely about questions of science is an important part of a free society. The discoveries that arise from this kind of open inquiry often help to build the free society even as they arise from it.

Scottish Enlightenment

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The 18th century Enlightenment was a European, even a trans-Atlantic phenomenon. Two of its main centres of intellectual activity were France and Scotland. The latter country produced an extraordinary amount of “enlightened”…


48 items

The modern form of socialism emerged in Britain, France and Germany in the 1830s and 1840s and has continued to evolve ever since. Various strands make up the socialist school of thought including voluntary socialists who wished to…


100 items

How do human societies constitute themselves? How do they interact with one another? How do they preserve and change themselves? The study of sociology is the exploration of these questions.

The Levellers

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The Levellers, such as John Lilburne (1615-1657), Richard Overton (1631-1664), and William Walwyn (c. 1600-1681), were a group of radical libertarian activists and pamphleteers who were active during the English Revolution. They…


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The name given to an ideal political community, “Utopia,” comes from Thomas More’s work Utopia which was published in Latin in 1516. What is interesting about many conceptions of utopian communities is that the authors assumed that…