Thomas Sowell

The economist Thomas Sowell’s prodigious output of over 30 books in the last 40 years has seen him writing on topics ranging from the basics of economic thinking to the impact of government programs on minorities to late-talking children. Sowell was born during the Great Depression and raised by his great-aunt. From these humble beginnings, he built a hugely successful and influential career as one of America’s most important economic thinkers. A major theme of his work, expanding on the ideas of F. A. Hayek, is the role knowledge plays in economies and how different institutional arrangements can either help or hinder the beneficial aggregation of dispersed knowledge. Sowell has also written at length about the unintended consequences of state run social programs such as welfare and affirmative action. He argues that many proponents of such plans are often more interested in conspicuously appearing to help than in actually having a positive impact. Some of his most theoretical work can be found in his trilogy of books on the origins of political ideologies. In A Conflict of Visions, Sowell contrasts the “constrained” and “unconstrained” visions of human nature and shows how their conflict informs much seemingly unrelated political debate. Sowell is currently a Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.


Sowell, Thomas (1930-)

by Jo Kwong on Aug 15, 2008

Thomas Sowell is an economist and social theorist who has written and taught on the topics of human achievement, free markets, race, and culture.

Free Thoughts

Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective

featuring Thomas Sowell, Aaron Ross Powell, and Trevor Burrus on Nov 4, 2016

Thomas Sowell joins us for a discussion about disparities of income and wealth between and within nations, as part of Equality Month at Libertarianism.org.


Editorial: Social Order & Economics

by Leonard P. Liggio on Jun 1, 1982

“There are many aspects of society (most of the interesting aspects) that can be understood and explained only through the use of invisible hand explanations.”


Slavery in America

by David Trenchard on Aug 15, 2008

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.


On Reaping What You Sow

by Neera K. Badhwar on May 12, 2016

Immorality often has bad consequences, for individuals and also for societies.


The Affirmative Action Myth

by Marie Gryphon on Apr 13, 2005

Affirmative action cannot solve the American dilemma of racial inequality.


“First, Do No Harm”

by Aaron Ross Powell on Nov 8, 2013

Libertarians get told we complain about government but never offer solutions. That’s not true—especially because limiting government often is the solution.


Why Has Liberty Flourished in the West?

by Jim Powell on Sep 1, 2000

Powell examines the expansion of liberty in western culture and covers the history of free thinkers from Cicero to Ayn Rand.


The Literature of Liberty

by Tom G. Palmer on Feb 4, 1998

Tom G. Palmer provides a comprehensive overview of the vast literature on libertarianism, free market economics, and the philosophy of liberty.