Liberty Fund

Liberty Fund was founded in 1960 by Pierre F. Goodrich, an Indianapolis lawyer and businessman, to the end that some hopeful contribution may be made to the preservation, restoration, and development of individual liberty through investigation, research, and educational activity.


Great books are the repository of knowledge and experience. Liberty Fund seeks to preserve the wisdom and learning of the ages and to strengthen our understanding and appreciation of individual liberty and responsibility.

For over four decades, Liberty Fund has made available some of the finest books in history, politics, philosophy, law, education, and economics—books of enduring value that have helped to shape ideas and events in man’s quest for liberty, order, and justice.

Featured Book Natural Rights on the Threshold of the Scottish Enlightenment

By Gershom Carmichael
Edited by James Moore and Michael Silverthorne, with a Foreword by James Moore
Translated by Michael Silverthorne

Gershom Carmichael (1672–1729) was the first professor of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow, preceding Hutcheson, Smith, and Reid. He defended a strong theory of rights and drew attention to Grotius, Pufendorf, and Locke.


Natural Rights on the Threshold of the Scottish Enlightenment


These resources are designed to further Liberty Fund’s educational activities. They include classic works in the tradition of limited government, as well as lively current discussions of how classical-liberal principles apply in today’s world.

Law & Liberty April 25, 2019

How Old is Originalism?

Originalism is not merely a modern movement born in 1982; it is as old as the Constitution.

AdamSmithWorks August 9, 2018

The Theory of Moral Sentiments: Part II, Section III, Chapter II

Of the Extent of this influence of Fortune

Law & Liberty April 25, 2019

Fleecing the Bankers

Patagonia produces bespoke fleece vests emblazoned with the names of America’s great financial houses, but now money isn't enough to procure them.

Law & Liberty April 25, 2019

An Impotent Congress Can’t Impeach Trump

The Democratic Congress lost the impeachment fight before it even started.

EconLog April 25, 2019

Some thoughts on the Spanish elections, by Alberto Mingardi

Spain is going to the ballot box on Sunday. The electoral law is a version of proportional representation, that helps the top-scoring parties to manage a high number of seats for the sake of governability.

The polls suggest that the Socialists will be the first party and will attempt to form a government with Podemos, the populist left wing. Such a government may not be enjoying a very wide majority. This is something that might make its life difficult, but it may also benefit the more extreme wing of the coalition, as each and any of their votes will matter, driving the Socialists to buy into their most radical positions to keep the coalition in power.

A government of this sort is likely to have two major consequences. It will be an executive friendlier to Catalan secessionists than a right-wing coalition: this friendliness is unlikely to make for a legal referendum to secede, but it may result in freeing the Catalan leaders who are still under arrest and offer them some sort of amnesty. The Catalan question was at the center of Monday’s debate.

Law & Liberty April 24, 2019

Reasons for Caution About Sudan

One can certainly hope for the best in Sudan, but the liabilities the country faces in transitioning to peace, let alone to democracy, remain sizable.

OLL December 28, 2011

Encouragement of Irish Linen Manufacture (August 1697) (John Locke)

life.john.lockeH.B. Fox Bourne, The Life of John Locke. In Two Volumes (London: Henry S. King, 1876). Vol. 2 pp. 363-372.

Law & Liberty April 24, 2019

We Should Firmly Shut the Open Door

NATO relies on a stale status quo that stretches the definition of the national interest beyond our safety, prosperity, and our way of life here at home.

OLL | Quotations April 6, 2008

Plato believed that great souls and creative talents produce "offspring" which can be enjoyed by others: wisdom, virtue, poetry, art, temperance, justice, and the law (340s BC)


Law & Liberty April 24, 2019

The Ninth Amendment and the Federalist Interpretation

The Federalist Interpretation of the Ninth Amendment has some merit, but the Amendment still protects natural rights.

EconTalk April 22, 2019

Paul Romer on Growth, Cities, and the State of Economics

economic-growth.jpg Nobel Laureate Paul Romer of New York University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of growth, the role of cities in the economy, and the state of economics. Romer also reflects on his time at the World Bank and why he left his position there as Chief Economist.

OLL March 12, 2013

John Stuart Mill, “Of the Limits to the Authority of Society over the Individual” (1859) (John Stuart Mill)

John Stuart MillThe Best of the OLL No. 5: John Stuart Mill, “Of the Limits to the Authority of Society over the Individual” (1859) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2013).

AdamSmithWorks April 24, 2019

Adam Smith Goes to the Movies: The Avengers

by Sarah E. Skwire and Aeon J. Skoble for AdamSmithWorks

If Adam Smith were alive today, he’d be just as excited as the rest of us about the release of Avengers: Endgame

Law & Liberty April 24, 2019

The Ineffable Weight of Being

James Matthew Wilson's poems in The Hanging God speak about the reality of life and the love we give, receive, or reject.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind (Francis Hutcheson)

HutchesonLogicUntil the publication of this Liberty Fund edition, all but one of the works contained in Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind were available only in Latin. This milestone English translation will provide a general audience with insight into Hutcheson’s thought. In the words of the editors: “Hutcheson’s Latin texts in logic and metaphysics form an important part of his collected works. Published respectively in 1756 and, in its second edition, 1744, these works represent Hutcheson’s only systematic treatments of logic, ontology, and pneumatology, or the science of the soul. They were considered indispensable texts for the instruction of students in the eighteenth century.”

EconLog April 24, 2019

Does the Fed treat 2% inflation as a ceiling?, by Scott Sumner

The Fed says no.

Many Fed critics say yes.

I say that it’s too soon to say.

Let’s look at PCE inflation (the index targeted by the Fed) over the past 15 years:

Inflation has exceeded 2% in seven years and fallen short in eight years.  That’s consistent with a symmetrical target.  So why do critics like David Beckworth argue that the Fed treats 2% as a ceiling?

The real problem is quite recent.  The Fed has fallen short of 2% in 6 of the past 7 years, and 8 of the past 10 years.  My view is that the shortfall around 2009-10 was intentional, as the critics maintain.  But I also believe that the more recent errors have been mistakes, and that the Fed does sincerely favor a symmetrical 2% target.

OLL November 21, 2011

Schiller’s Works Illustrated by Great German Artists, Vol. 1 (Johann Georg Fischer)

Schiller’s Works, illustrated by the greatest German artists, ed. J.G. Fischer with Biographical Introduction by Hjalmar H. Boysen (Philadelphia: George Barrie, 1883). Vol. 1.

Law & Liberty April 23, 2019

Originalism as Ideology

Once you think about where originalism came from and what it was supposed to do, you begin to suspect that it may have run its course.  

EconLog April 24, 2019

Governing Least: Incorrectness on Political Correctness, by Bryan Caplan

When I saw Dan Moller’s chapter on “Dilemmas of Political Correctness,” I thought I knew what he was going to say.  I thought he was going to say something like, “We should all have good manners, but the demands of so-called ‘social justice’ are unreasonable and unfair.”  Indeed, I half-expected him to offer another imaginary speech echoing those in his first chapter.  Something along the lines of:

Imagine calling a town hall meeting and delivering the following speech:

My dear assembled citizens: I know most of us are strangers, but for many centuries people in this society have treated my group disrespectfully – if not brutally.  You’ve improved of late, but it is nowhere near sufficient.  Thus, I’m here now to insist that you (yes you, Emma, and you, John) owe me special deference as a matter of justice. From now on, you have to go out of your way to make me feel especially loved and prized.  You should discuss my troubles several times per day, and never suggest that members of my group are in any way responsible for our current misfortunes.  To do the latter is now officially called “Blaming the Victim,” and is the height of injustice.

OLL | Liberty Matters March 4, 2019

Aurelian Craiutu, “How to Combat Fanaticism and the Spirit of Party: Germaine de Staël’s Lesson"

Liberty MattersThe year 2017 marked the bicentenary of Germaine de Staël's death (1766-1817). Although her name almost never appears in textbooks or histories of political thought in the English-speaking world her political thought is undeniably rich and brilliant. The recent revival of interest in French political thought, as manifested by the publication of many works by and about Constant, Tocqueville, or Guizot, has not extended to Madame de Staël. Therefore, it is high time for her to finally receive the place that she deserves in the history of political thought. This would be an overdue act of justice for a woman who defied many conventions of her time and made a name for herself in a highly competitive and male-dominated world. But there is a second reason why the rediscovery of Madame de Staël's political thought and the publication of her political works should be a priority today. Having lived in revolutionary times, she had a unique opportunity to witness firsthand the importance of ideas and the power of passions in society and political life. In this month's Liberty Matters discussion Aurelian Craiutu, professor of political science at Indiana University, will present arguments why she should no longer remain a neglected political thinker. He is joined in the dicussion by Benjamin Hoffmann, assistant professor of early modern French Studies at The Ohio State University; Catriona Seth, the Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature at the University of Oxford; and Steven Vincent, professor of history at North Carolina State University.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

OLL | Quotations April 9, 2006

Pierre Bayle begins his defence of religious toleration with this appeal that the light of nature, or Reason, should be used to settle religious differences and not coercion (1708)

Pierre Bayle

CEE February 4, 2018


CEE redistributionThe federal government has increasingly assumed responsibility for reducing poverty in America. Its primary approach is to expand programs that transfer wealth, supposedly from the better off to the poor. In 1962, federal transfers to individuals (not counting payments for goods and services provided or interest for money loaned) amounted to 5.2 percent of gross domestic product, or 27 percent of federal spending (Stein and Foss 1995, p. 212). By 2000, federal transfers had increased to 10.9 percent of GDP, or approximately 60 percent of federal spending; GDP was 9.82 trillion and federal spending was 1.79 trillion. These transfers are commonly referred to as government redistribution programs, presumably from the wealthy to the poor. The unstated implication is that income was originally distributed by someone. But no one distributes income. Rather, incomes are determined in the marketplace by millions of people providing and purchasing services through voluntary exchanges, and government transfers necessarily limit these exchanges. That explains the quotation marks around the term “redistribution.”

OLL | Quotations April 11, 2012

Tiedeman states that the police powers under the constitution are strictly limited to enforcing the maxim: "use your own property in such a manner as not to injure that of another" (1886)

OLL March 13, 2012

Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1 (1839) (Gustave de Beaumont)

Ireland social political religiousIreland: Social, Political, and Religious, ed. W.C. Taylor (London: Richard Bentley, 1839). Vol. 1.

Econlib April 1, 2019

Hayek, Mises, and the Methodology of the Social Sciences


The Fortunes of Liberalism collects a wide-ranging number of Friedrich. A. Hayek’s articles, reviews, addresses, and even obituaries—35 in total—spanning all seven decades of his scholarly career from the 1920s to the 1980s. To call this collection eclectic is an understatement, but the unifying theme is Hayek’s perspective on thinkers who have some connection to Austrian economics, to Hayek’s reconstruction of liberalism, or to both. As such, it includes pieces engaging with the lives and work of thinkers like Carl Menger, Friedrich von Wieser, Ludwig von Mises, Wilhelm Röpke, Joseph Schumpeter, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bruno Leoni, Leonard Read, and Lord Acton. It also contains several documents that explain Hayek’s thought processes leading up to and including the foundation of the Mont Pelerin Society.

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Shaftesbury's Illustrations

Shaftesbury v 2 p 3The The Characteristicks of Men, Manners, and Opinion (1737), included a number of illustrations in the book in order to complement the text. The exact meaning of these illustrations is not entirely clear.

OLL | Quotations October 15, 2006

In Measure for Measure Shakespeare has Isabella denounce the Duke's deputy for being corrupted by power, "it is excellent To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant" (1623)


Liberty Forum April 1, 2019

NATO at Three Score and Ten: An Anticipatory Elegy

Dues payments are the last of NATO’s worries. More importantly, now that it’s so big, how can it defend its far-flung borders against Russia?

Liberty Law Talk April 15, 2019

Fear God. Honor the Emperor. A Conversation with Robert Louis Wilken

Robert Louis Wilken discusses his new book Liberty in the Things of God.

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