David D. Friedman

David D. Friedman, son of Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, is a leading proponent of anarcho-capitalism, the theory that the state is an unnecessary evil and that all services, including the law itself, can be provided by voluntary cooperation in the private economy.

While Friedman holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago, he is chiefly known for his scholarly contributions to economics and law. He is the author of five books of non-fiction as well as the novels Harald and Salamander. In The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism, Friedman argued that an economic analysis of impact of state action points to an anarchist conclusion. In Law’s Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters, he shows how directing the law to seek economic efficiency can lead to the achievement of justice.

Friedman stands in contrast to many other anarchists because of his “consequentialist” approach. Rather than argue that humans have inviolable natural rights which it is always wrong to violate, he uses cost-benefit analysis to assert that a world without government is measurably better than one ruled by states.

Exploring Liberty

The Machinery of Freedom

featuring David D. Friedman on Mar 6, 2012

Friedman discusses has book,The Machinery of Freedom, and offers some additional insights he has had since its publication.

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Problems with Libertarianism

featuring David D. Friedman on May 16, 1981

David Friedman lists problems he believes he has found with moral-rights based justifications for libertarianism.

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David Friedman: Should We Abolish Criminal Law?

featuring David D. Friedman on Mar 8, 1997

Friedman examines the differences between civil and criminal systems of law. He imagines what the U.S. legal system would look like if criminal law were dissolved.


Getting the Property Problem Wrong

by David D. Friedman on Feb 4, 2013

Friedman critiques Matt Zwolinski’s essay on the complicated nature of private property.


Debating “Freedom”

by David D. Friedman on Feb 7, 2013

Friedman furthers his argument on private property, drawing a moral distinction between uncreated and created property.


Is All Freedom Equal?

by David D. Friedman on Feb 12, 2013

Friedman continues his debate with Matt Zwolinski over property rights.

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The Foundation for Libertarianism: Ethics or Economics?

featuring George H. Smith and David D. Friedman on May 15, 1981

George H. Smith and David D. Friedman have a debate over whether natural rights or rule utilitarianism forms a better basis for libertarian ideas.


Friedman, David (1945-)

by Bryan Caplan on Aug 15, 2008

David Friedman is a prominent intellectual whose critical writings on economics, law, and the state have contributed to the advancement of libertarian ideas.



by Bryan Caplan on Aug 15, 2008

The most minimal proposed form of state organization, anarchism, is the philosophy of the absence of government.

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Mapping the Ethical Minefield

featuring David Boaz, David D. Friedman, and Scott Olmsted on Jul 27, 1985

David Friedman, David Boaz, and Scott Olmsted tackle a minefield of issues relating to ethics and strategy of the Libertarian Party.