Sunday, March 1, 2015

Some important new libertarian books

Some important new books on libertarianism - The Washington Post - Ilya Somin, The Volokh Conspiracy:

February 26, 2015 - "A number of new books on libertarianism and related issues have come out recently or should be in print soon. If you are interested in libertarianism, these books may well be of interest to you....

"Perhaps the one with the broadest appeal is The Libertarian Mind, by David Boaz of the Cato Institute. It is the best recent introduction to libertarianism for a popular audience. Boaz does an excellent job of surveying both the history of libertarianism and libertarian positions on a variety of modern political issues. He is especially good on 'noneconomic' issues that many people with only a passing knowledge of libertarian thought don’t normally associate with the movement. For example, he emphasizes that libertarian thinkers were calling for the abolition of anti-sodomy laws, the War on Drugs, and other pernicious 'social' regulations long before these became mainstream positions elsewhere on the political spectrum.... Boaz also does a good job of raising and addressing a variety of standard objections to libertarian ideas that are traditional advanced by critics (particularly mainstream liberals and conservatives in the United States)....

"Jacob Levy’s Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom is a great overview of a longstanding issue in libertarian thought (and liberal thought more generally): the appropriate role of 'intermediate groups' such as religious organizations, voluntary associations, and organized ethnic groups. While such groups can enhance individual liberty, they can also undermine it....He argues that neither pure freedom of association nor complete homogenization of groups to eliminate illiberal tendencies is defensible. Thus, he concludes that the tension between group pluralism and the possible need for centralized control of these groups in order to protect individuals can’t be completely eradicated....

"Finally, I very much look forward to Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski’s book Markets Without Limits. Despite the title, the authors don’t claim that markets should be literally without limits, in the sense that any and all possible commercial transactions are morally defensible. Rather, as the authors put it, they argue that '[i]f you may do it for free, you may do it for money.' For example, if it is permissible to donate organs, it should also be permissible to sell them in organ markets. On the other hand, it is wrong for a hit man to commit murder for profit, because committing murder is wrong regardless of whether he gets paid for it or not."

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