Aaron Ross Powell, Tom G. Palmer, and Sloane Frost each answer the question “Why Liberty?” in this Cato Student Forum.

Aaron Ross Powell
Director and Editor

Aaron Ross Powell is Director and Editor of Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org, a project of the Cato Institute. Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org presents introductory material as well as new scholarship related to libertarian philosophy, theory, and history. He is also co‐​host of Libertarianism.org’s popular podcast, Free Thoughts. His writing has appeared in Liberty and The Cato Journal. He earned a JD from the University of Denver.

Tom G. Palmer is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, director of the Institute’s educational division, Cato University, Executive Vice President for International Programs at Atlas Network, and author of Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice, among other works.

What is the role of government in society? Different answers to this question have important consequences. Such disagreement recently led to the partial shutdown of the U.S. government. Thinkers from Aristotle to the American Founders to Ron Paul have argued that a crucial role of government is to protect individuals’ liberty to pursue happiness. While other thinkers have challenged this view, deeming it simplistic or unambitious in its pursuits, the Millennial generation has widely adopted the mantra “live and let live.” These arguments about liberty imply other questions. What are the benefits of a political system based on liberty? What are the implications of limiting individual liberty in pursuit of collective goals, whether on the Right or the Left? And how will the appeal of liberty to young people change the way the world views government?