Philosophy and Social Theory

Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962). A clear statement of the economics of the free society, including the relationship between "economic" liberty and "civil" liberty.

In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government, by Charles Murray (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988). The author of Losing Ground, having criticized statist institutions, turns his attention to an exposition of the form of a free society.

The Twilight of Authority, by Robert Nisbet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975). The renowned sociologist looks at the replacement of forms of social authority by the "authority" of the state. Examines the atomizing effects of statism and the debilitating effects of militarism and collectivism.

Selected Essays on Political Economy, by Frederic Bastiat (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 1964). This edition includes the French liberal and free-trade leader's brilliant essays on "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen," "The Law," and "The State."

The Foundations of Bioethics, by H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). A full-scale treatment of problems in bioethics, this work begins by laying a groundwork for rights that is universal and can offer common ground for a great diversity of moral viewpoints.

Benjamin Constant: Political Writings, ed. by Biancamaria Fontana (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988). This collection of writings by the great French political philosopher includes his seminal essay, "The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with That of the Moderns," which defends modern liberty against the claims of the coercive communitarians. An effective response to modern coercive communitarians in political thought like Alasdair Macintyre, Michael Sandel, and Charles Taylor.

Our Enemy, the State, by Albert Jay Nock (1935; reprint, New York: Libertarian Review Foundation, 1989). Nock's book is a persuasive presentation of the predatory theory of state power. This edition also includes the eloquent essay, "On Doing the Right Thing."

The God of the Machine, by Isabel Paterson (1943; reprint, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1993). A devastating critique of collectivism and defense of individualism.

A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws, by Destutt de Tracy (1811; New York: Burt Franklin, 1969). This work, translated by Thomas Jefferson, offered a strong liberal statement of the principles of government, in the form of a criticism of Montesquieu.

Social Statics, by Herbert Spencer (1850; New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1954). A classic statement of liberal rights theory based on the "law of equal freedom"; includes his important essay, "The Right to Ignore the State."

The Logic of Liberty, by Michael Polanyi (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1951). A noted scientist looks at the spontaneous and "unplanned" growth of science and draws inferences for the free and spontaneous development of other social orders. A classic of social theory.

Second Treatise of Government (or An Essay Concerning Civil Government), by John Locke (1690; student edition, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988). The classic statement of individual rights, justly acquired property, and limited government.

The Limits of State Action, by Wilhelm von Humboldt (1854; 1969; reprint, Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1993). The work that profoundly influenced Mill's essay, On Liberty. Humboldt's work is remarkable for its statement of the relationship between freedom and the development of personality.

Liberalism, by Ludwig von Mises (Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, 1978; Irvington-on-Hudson: Foundation for Economic Education, 1985). A strong statement of liberal principles by a prominent Austrian economist and liberal thinker.

Anarchy, State, and Utopia, by Robert Nozick (New York: Basic Books, 1974). The book that helped to launch the recent revival of political philosophy. A rewarding work, especially interesting for its analysis of rights as "side constraints."

Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community, by Loren E. Lomasky (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987). Lomasky's work is at the center of a major current controversy in moral and political theory: the status of rights and the relationship of the individual to the community. Lomasky presents a liberal, individualistic theory of rights based on an understanding of persons as "project pursuers." Highly recommended for students in moral and political philosophy, social theory, and political science.

The Man versus the State, by Herbert Spencer (1884; Indianapolis, Liberty Classics, 1982). A warning against encroaching statism and the "New Toryism" by an English classical liberal.

The Road to Serfdom, by F. A. Hayek (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944). One of the books that launched the modern classical liberal/libertarian movement. Looks at the relationship between economic statism and liberty, concluding that the two are incompatible. Hayek received the Nobel Prize for economics in 1974.

For A New Liberty, by Murray Rothbard (New York: Collier Books, 1978). A sweeping case for liberty, drawing from history, moral and political philosophy, and economics.

The State, by Franz Oppenheimer (New York: Free Life Editions, 1975). Shows how the state is rooted in conquest and perpetuates conflict.

The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, by F. A. Hayek (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988). An excellent introduction to the thought of one of the century's preeminent social thinkers, this work spans economics, history, philosophy, ethics, and more. Controversial and very interesting.

The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies in the Abuse of Reason, by F. A. Hayek (1952; reprint, Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1979). A seminal study of the roots of socialism in a fatal misunderstanding of social processes. An important work in intellectual history and a serious contribution to the study of our society.

The Lysander Spooner Reader, ed. by George H. Smith (San Francisco: Fox & Wilkes, 1992). Lysander Spooner was an abolitionist enemy of slavery, constitutional scholar, and opponent of state power. This volume includes Spooner's "Essay on the Trial by Jury," arguing for the rights of juries to nullify unjust laws, his famous "No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority," and his brilliant argument for personal liberty, "Vices Are Not Crimes."

The Ethics of Redistribution, by Bertrand de Jouvenel (1951; reprint, Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1990). Jouvenel shows not only how disappointing the results of coercive redistribution are, but how income redistribution has come to mean "far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the State." This book is very important for understanding the modern welfare state.

The Ethics of Liberty, by Murray N. Rothbard (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1982). This work is an attempt to provide a synthesized ethical foundaton for the free society, dealing with both general principles and specific problems.

Envy, by Helmut Schoeck (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1987). Schoeck provides an important and comprehensive sociological study of envy as a force generating social conflict.

In Defense of Modernity: Role Complexity and Individual Autonomy, by Rose Laub Coser (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991). Coser presents a powerful defense of modern liberal society against its coercive-communitarian critics. This book is usefully read in conjunction with the essays of Benjamin Constant.

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