Smith discusses Spooner’s secular theory of natural law and his belief that no legislation is valid unless it conforms to natural law.
George H. Smith
George H. Smith was formerly Senior Research Fellow for the Institute for Humane Studies, a lecturer on American History for Cato Summer Seminars, and Executive Editor of Knowledge Products. Smith's fourth and most recent book, The System of Liberty, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013.
With his 250th essay, Smith interrupts his series on abolitionism to offer some reflections on writing essays.
Smith details the scholarly debate between Lysander Spooner and Wendell Phillips over the constitutionality of slavery.
George H. Smith begins his series on the historical relationship between religious skepticism and libertarianism.
Nassau William Senior was an important British economist who contributed to theories of utility, political economy, and value.
George H. Smith discusses what Bernard Mandeville meant in saying that private vices produce public benefits, and how Francis Hutcheson criticized that theory.
The Philosophic Radicals, including Jeremy Bentham, were British reformers generally supporting Benthian utilitarianism and democratic change.
Franz Oppenheimer, a German sociologist, wrote a comprehensive explanation of the history of the state as a history of conquest.
George H. Smith discusses Bernard Mandeville’s defense of legal prostitution and other vices.
Bernard Mandeville’s controversial essays and allegories raised questions about justice and socially or morally virtuous actions.
The Third Earl of Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper was a statesman and philosopher with an interest in individualism and the natural harmony of interests.
George H. Smith explains why Mandeville’s ideas about vice made him one of the most notorious writers of his time.
Smith provides some background on Spooner’s influential book The Unconstitutionality of Slavery.
Francis Hutcheson’s philosophy addressed moral obligations as they related to personal liberties, virtue, and rights.
Thomas Hodgskin was a British political and economic theorist affiliated most with individualist anarchism, though his writings were vivid and original.
Herbert Spencer was a major influence on 19th century liberalism. His work on evolutionary theory and social order made him one of the first sociologists.
George H. Smith continues his discussion of Joseph Butler’s theory of moral psychology, and summarizes his ideas about conscience and rational self-interest.
Social Darwinism applied the idea of “survival of the fittest” to society to poor ends. However, its intellectual founders did not share those views.