Advanced Topics in Liberty
The State as Protector or Enemy of Liberty
For undergraduate and graduate students
This conference will explore the relationship between economic freedom and the power of the state. The main questions we intend to address are: How is economic freedom related to individual liberty? To what extent can we count on the state to protect economic freedom and individual liberty? How can we have limited government? Participants would be students (both undergraduate and graduates) drawn from alumni of the Institute’s summer seminars and summer fellows program.
The relationship between economic and political freedom is a complex one. While economic freedom is, in some ways, dependent on the existence of a state to enforce property rights and contracts, politics creates opportunities for governments to oppress their citizens and limit freedoms. The state can help to lower transaction costs by creating greater regularity in life, but that same state can be arbitrary and inefficient in its policy decisions.
Some of the most important liberal thinkers in the twentieth century have understood and studied this relationship. Hayek, Buchanan, and Friedman, to name but a few, have explored how we must live with the state while at the same time trying to limit it. Still, some of the most important work in this area remains unknown to many audiences. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose was very popular in the 1980s, but much of the popular literature on economics is still dominated by leftist critiques of markets.
McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University
John Hasnas is an associate professor of business at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where he teaches courses in ethics and law. Professor Hasnas has held previous appointments as an Associate Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law, Visiting Associate Professor of Law at the Washington College of Law at American University, and Law and Humanities Fellow at Temple University School of Law. Professor Hasnas has also been a visiting scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics in Washington, DC and the Social Philosophy and Policy Center in Bowling Green, Ohio. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from Lafayette College, his J.D. and Ph.D. in Legal Philosophy from Duke University, and his LL.M. in Legal Education from Temple Law School. Between 1997 and 1999, Professor Hasnas served as assistant general counsel to Koch Industries, Inc. in Wichita, Kansas. His scholarship concerns ethics and white collar crime, jurisprudence, and legal history and he is currently at work on a philosophical analysis of the Constitutional right to die.
Session I: Economy and Political Liberty
- Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom, Chapters 1 and 2
- W. Ken Farr, Richard A. Lord, and J. Larry Wolfenbarger's "Economic Freedom, Political Freedom and Economic Well-Being: A Causality Analysis" from Cato Journal
Session II: Liberty and Prosperity
- David D. Friedman's Law's Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters, Chapters 1 and 2
Session III: The State and Rights
- Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Chapters 5 and 6, pages 88-146
- James Buchanan's "Commencement" from The Limits of Liberty
Session IV: The Surveillance State
- Peter P. Swire's "Financial Privacy and the Theory of High-Tech Government Surveillance" from Brookings-Wharton Papers on Financial Services
- Jim Harper's "Understanding Privacy--and Real Threats to It" from Cato Policy Analysis
Session V: Liberty and the Rule of Law
- Friedrich Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty, Chapters 10 and 14
- Todd Zywicki's "The Rule of Law, Freedom, and Prosperity" in Supreme Court Economic Review
Session VI: Limiting Government
- Anthony de Jasay's Against Politics: On Government, Anarchy, and Order, Chapter 2