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Self-Interest

by Lester Hunt

Most libertarians view self-interest as crucial to individual behavior. In this entry, Lester Hunt outlines differing philosophies of self-interest.

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Slavery in America

by David Trenchard

Slavery was once a ruthless and static institution in America. Abolishing the institution of slavery in the US was thus a crucial milestone of liberty.

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Slavery, World

by Stephen Davies

In this entry, Stephen Davies traces the history of slavery, from common ancient practices to today’s world, where slavery is legally abolished everywhere.

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Social Darwinism

by George H. Smith

Social Darwinism applied the idea of “survival of the fittest” to society to poor ends. However, its intellectual founders did not share those views.

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Socialism

by David Prychitko

Socialism calls for the social ownership, planning, and redistribution of wealth and goods. It undermines freedom and ultimately fails to meet its ends.

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Socialist Calculation Debate

by Israel Kirzner

The socialist calculation debate asks whether central planners can efficiently distribute resources. Evidence largely proves that no, socialism will always fail.

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Sociology and Libertarianism

by Christie Davies

Though today, many sociologists argue in favor of egalitarianism, the field began as a comparative study of societies that often found libertarian conclusions.

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Spontaneous Order

by Norman Barry

Spontaneous order theory suggests that society is the aggregate of individual action, and that institutions of society form without government planning.

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State

by Paul Dragos Aligica

What the state should look like varies even among libertarians.

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Stoicism

by Roderick T. Long

Stoicism was a philosophical movement in Ancient Greece and Rome based on rational self-discipline, virtue, and natural law as the basis for state authority.

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Subsidiarity

by Nigel Ashford

Subsidiarity is decentralized, bottom-up decision-making. Libertarians support decentralization that places the individual in charge of their own decisions.

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Tax Competition

by Daniel J. Mitchell

Tax competition occurs when governments adopt more attractive tax policies to attract people to live and do business within their borders.

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Utilitarianism

by John Hasnas

Utilitarianism equates morality to acts that maximize overall human happiness. Different theories find it both compatible and incompatible with libertarianism.

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Virtue

by Douglas Den Uyl

Libertarians support the concept that virtue, or a sense of moral good present in acts or character, is born from liberty.

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Voluntarism

by Wendy McElroy

Voluntarism argues that individuals should not be coerced into “socially beneficial” projects, but should act voluntarily to assist others.

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Voluntary Contract Enforcement

by Benjamin Powell and Edward P. Stringham

With many private contract enforcement options in existence, libertarians now question whether government is needed to guarantee contracts are upheld.

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Wealth and Poverty

by Dwight R. Lee

Wealth is born from production and meeting the demands of the market. As such, liberty encourages wealth, while government over-regulation may destroy it.

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Whiggism

by Ronald Hamowy

British Whigs were early supporters of constitutionalism and later continued to work for a platform of classical liberalism and republicanism.