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essays

That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen

by Frédéric Bastiat in 1850

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.

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The Federalist No. 10

by James Madison in 1787

Madison discusses how a large, republican government can mitigate the effects of factions.

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Associations in Civil Life

by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835

In this excerpt from Democracy in America, Tocqueville examines the decentralized, voluntary associations he found throughout the United States.

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Interest Rightly Understood

by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1840

Tocqueville discusses the ways that self-interest disciplines people in the habits of regularity, temperance, moderation, foresight, and self-command.

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The Humanitarian With The Guillotine

by Isabel Paterson in 1943

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.

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Understanding Can Not Be Compelled

by John Locke in 1689

John Locke argues for liberty of conscience which he calls “every man’s natural right,” in this selection from A Letter Concerning Toleration.

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Justice and Beneficence

by Adam Smith in 1759

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.

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The Subjugation of Women

by Mary Wollstonecraft in 1792

Wollstonecraft argues the case for women’s rights entirely in libertarian terms of equal and natural rights.

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Man Cannot Hold Property in Man

by William Lloyd Garrison on Dec 13, 1833

William Lloyd Garrison argues that slavery was a direct violation of each person’s ownership of himself.

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Libertarianism in the Crosshairs

by Tom G. Palmer on Jul 1, 2000

Starting from the premise that mass resistance to your ideas is a sign of success, Palmer critiques several criticisms of libertarian philosophy.

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Using the Market for Social Development

by Milton Friedman on Nov 1, 1988

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.

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You Are a Man And So Am I

by Frederick Douglass on Sep 3, 1848

Frederick Douglass argues that slavery “destroys the central principle of human responsibility” and violates the Constitution in three short essays.

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A Human Being Cannot Be Justly Owned

by William Ellery Channing in 1835

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.

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Rights and Responsibilities of Women

by Angelina Grimké in 1837

Angelina Grimké applies libertarian ideas to both women and blacks, showing that they are moral agents possessing rights and responsibilities.