A look at the ideas, battles, and legacy of the most important 19th and 20th century champions of liberty such as Mill, Mises, Hayek, Friedman, Rothbard, Rand, Nozick, Buchanan, and Tullock. How did these thought leaders advance liberty in the face of violent totalitarianism and creeping statism? How did they address their challengers like Keynes, Rawls, and Cohen? Finally, who will carry their legacy into the 21st century? This seminar is ideal for IHS summer seminar alumni and students who are familiar with the libertarian conceptual framework.
Freedom Renewed: Libertarian Visionaries
Mises and Economic Calculation
What kind of models for economic and social organization were proposed in the 20s and 30s? Why did economists like Lerner and Lange push for central planning and state control of resources? What new arguments did they propose, and how did Vienna’s heavy hitter, Mises, respond to their arguments? Consider the methodological and empirical assumptions employed by free market advocates and their detractors, and learn about the economic models that shaped the history of the 20th century.
Hayek Against Scientism
Hayek is best-known for developing one of the most important insights of 20th century economics, namely, that the dispersed, local, and tacit nature of the knowledge that makes economies run and that coordinates the activities of millions upon millions of agents acting for their own purposes cannot be possessed by those attempting to plan economies. Along these lines he also developed critical insights into the misuse of rationality for economics and the social sciences. Explore Hayek’s epistemological arguments and consider their applications to law, economics, philosophy, and political science.
Lunch & Free Time – Talk, explore, run, throw a Frisbee, read, nap…it’s up to you! (*Tuesday afternoon and evening are free for participants to visit friends nearby or explore the surrounding areas.)
Nozick on Justice
John Rawls presented one of the most powerful and influential theories of distributive justice in his landmark A Theory of Justice. But it was his Harvard colleague, Robert Nozick, who provided a compelling libertarian account of justice. Consider Nozick’s belief that “liberty upsets patterns” and his contention that Rawls’s intuitions about the demands of justice lacked a fundamental understanding of the implications of that belief.
Dinner – Continue the conversations started earlier in the day. Did Nozick adequately respond to Rawls? What other libertarian accounts of justice are available to defenders of freedom? Why was Hayek virtually ignored by other economists, only to be vindicated later?
Individualism, Liberty, and Communitarian Critics
While Rawls and Nozick were battling for philosophical supremacy, a new challenge to liberty and modern society, based on the insights of ancient and medieval philosophers, began to emerge. Communitarian critics of both classical and modern liberalism, such as Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Michael Sandel, argued that the advocates of liberalism—of all stripes—were failing to account for the fundamental virtues that enable human beings to flourish and that were essential to good societies. Consider their arguments and learn how advocates of liberty responded to these critiques.
Evening Social – Enjoy a drink, some friendly debate, and in-depth discussions that linger late into the night.