Bastiat shows how economic thinking often goes wrong by focusing on immediate and obvious effects and ignoring those effects that are harder to notice or quantify.
Paine explores the distinction between society and government and the impact the latter has on the former in this selection from Common Sense.
Madison discusses how a large, republican government can mitigate the effects of factions.
Tocqueville warns of the dangers from a nurturing government “extending its arm over the whole community.”
In this excerpt from Democracy in America, Tocqueville examines the decentralized, voluntary associations he found throughout the United States.
Tocqueville discusses the ways that self-interest disciplines people in the habits of regularity, temperance, moderation, foresight, and self-command.
The great classical liberal John Stuart Mill articulates his famous Harm Principle.
Paterson argues that the desire to do good for others can lead people to the conclusion that their concept of the good should be enforced by compulsion.
John Locke argues for liberty of conscience which he calls “every man’s natural right,” in this selection from A Letter Concerning Toleration.
Smith explains why benevolence is desirable but justice is essential not just to to civil society but also to how we measure our behavior in the eyes of others.
Wollstonecraft argues the case for women’s rights entirely in libertarian terms of equal and natural rights.
Addressing the problems with the two main approaches to privacy rights in America, Richman advocates for a Lockean approach.
William Lloyd Garrison argues that slavery was a direct violation of each person’s ownership of himself.
Starting from the premise that mass resistance to your ideas is a sign of success, Palmer critiques several criticisms of libertarian philosophy.
Friedman explores the nature of privatization in the United States, Europe, China, and Soviet Russia, arguing that there is no one route to economic freedom.
Frederick Douglass argues that slavery “destroys the central principle of human responsibility” and violates the Constitution in three short essays.
William Ellery Channing, a major influence on Ralph Waldo Emerson, argues that in the nature of property rights, human beings cannot be the property of others.
Angelina Grimké applies libertarian ideas to both women and blacks, showing that they are moral agents possessing rights and responsibilities.