Jean Barbeyrac on the need to disobey unjust laws (1715)

The French jurist Jean Barbeyrac (1674-1744) argues that it “absolutely necessary” for a good man to disobey just civil laws when they conflict with the natural laws which are “written in our heart”:

Algernon Sidney on not unquestioningly “rendering unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” before checking to see if they legitimately belong to Caesar (1689)

The English radical republican Algernon Sidney (1622-1683) wants us to ask “who is this Caesar” and “what legitimately belongs to him” before we give Caesar anything:

Elisha Williams on the unalienable right every person has to think and judge for themselves (1744)

The American Congregational minister Elisha Williams (1694–1755) argues that every person has an unalienable right to read, think, argue, and speak about religious matters without outside interference or control:

Benedict de Spinoza on the natural right every person has to think and speak on any subject they choose (1670)

The Dutch philosopher Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677) argued that “in a free state every man may think what he likes, and say what he thinks”:

William Graham Sumner on the political corruption which is “jobbery” (1884)

The American clergyman and sociologist William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) thought that “jobbery”, the attempt to gain wealth from others by extortion by means of the government instead of honest labor, was rampant in plutocratic America:

Thomas Jefferson on whether the American Constitution is binding on those who were not born at the time it was signed and agreed to (1789)

In a letter written to James Madison from Paris just after the French Revolution had broken out, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) argues that any Constitution expires after 19 years and must be renewed if it is not to become “an act of force and not of right”:

Thomas Aquinas on why the law should not punish imperfect men for practising vices which do not harm others (1274)

The Italian Dominican theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275) argues the because the majority of people are weak and not perfect, human laws should not punish individuals for engaging in vice unless it causes harm to others:

Epictetus on one’s inner freedom that is immune to external coercion (c. 100 CE)

The ex-slave and Stoic philosopher Epictetus (55-100 CE) argues that one’s inner power to assent or not to assent to something is what constitutes one’s true freedom:

Francis Hutcheson on the difference between “perfect” and “imperfect” rights (1725)

The Scottish philosopher Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) distinguished between “perfect rights” (like the right to life and liberty) which were so essential that one was permitted to use violence to protect, and “imperfect rights” which were not:

William Godwin on the need to simplify and reduce the power of the state (1793)

The English radical political philosopher and novelist William Godwin (1756-1836) thought that human beings were not naturally “vicious” but were made so by complex political institutions which rewarded predatory behavior:

Benjamin Constant on the difference between rights and utility (1815)

The French-Swiss political theorist Benjamin Constant (1767-1830) thought Jeremy Bentham confused cause and effect when he rejected the idea of natural rights:

Mises states that it is the division of labor which makes man truly “social” or “communal” (1922)

Ludwig von Mises rejects the claim of the socialists that only under socialism or communism can man be truly “social”. In his view mankind is “social” as soon as cooperation and the division of labor enter the picture:

Adam Smith on the illegitimacy of using force to promote beneficence (1759)

Adam Smith (1723-1790) argues that force should never be used to make people be beneficent to others:

Richard Cobden on how free trade would unite mankind in the bonds of peace (1850)

Richard Cobden (1804-1865) did not advocate free trade just because it would increase the production of goods, but primarily on the moral grounds that it would reduce violence and “unite mankind in the bonds of peace”:

Molinari calls the idea of using tariffs to promote a nation’s economy “a monstrosity” (1852)

The Belgian-French economist Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912) thought that since the borders of nation states were usually decided by historical accident or the hazards of war, to erect tariff barriers along their borders was “a monstrosity”:

Robert Filmer thought that the idea of the “consent of the governed” would inevitably lead to anarchy (1680)

The defender of the theory of the divine right of kings, Sir Robert Filmer (1588-1653), thought that the idea of the “consent of the governed” would inevitably lead to anarchy:

Robert Molesworth on the benefits of open borders and free immigration (1705)

The Irish Commonwealthman and “True Whig” Robert Molesworth (1650-1725) defended open borders and free immigration on the grounds that England was a beacon of religious liberty and private property and that all immigrants were “useful and profitable Hands”:

Jeremy Bentham on rights as a creation of the state alone (1831)

The English utilitarian political philosopher and lawyer Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) dismissed the notion of “natural” rights as nonsense and argued the all rights were the creation of the state:

William Graham Sumner on free trade as another aspect of individual liberty (1888)

The American sociologist William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) argues that free trade is not just a “theory” but another aspect or “mode” of the broader movement for liberty:

William Graham Sumner on the “do-nothing” state vs. ”the meddling” state (1888)

The American sociologist William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) distinguished between an older conception of the state, as a “do nothing” state, and a newer conception which was beginning to appear in the late 1880s, where there was constant “meddling and fussing and regulating”:

Algernon Sidney on de facto vs. de jure political power (1698)

The radical English republican Algernon Sidney (1622-1683) distinguishes between states that have illegitimate de facto power and those that have legitimate de jure power:

Adam Smith thinks many candidates for high political office act as if they are above the law (1759)

The economist Adam Smith (1723-1790) contrasts how people from “the middling and inferior stations of life” acquire their reputations and their fortune with those from “the superior stations of life”:

Philip Wicksteed on “non-tuism” in economic relations (1910)

The English philosopher and economist Philip H. Wicksteed (1844-1927) argues that what motivates an economic relation between two individuals is not pure “egoism” on the part of the participants but what he terms its “non-tuism” or impersonal aspects:

Joseph Priestley on the presumption of liberty (1771)

The English radical theologian Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) argued that, if it were not clear how much the government should interfere in people’s lives, then it should leave things “to take their natural course”:

Frédéric Bastiat’s theory of plunder (1850)

The French economist Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) developed a theory of plunder in the late 1840s which he defined in the following way: