Excursions into Libertarian Thought

Cato Institute

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George H. Smith explores the history of libertarian ideas. Narrated by Daniel Hyland.
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Immanuel Kant and the Natural Law Tradition

14:20 | Jul 25th, 2018

George Smith discusses Kant’s attempt to justify objective moral principles and his views on when the use of coercion is morally proper.
A Few Kind Words about the Most Evil Man in Mankind’s History

16:12 | Jul 18th, 2018

George Smith explains some fundamental features of Immanuel Kant’s moral and political theory.
Some Personal Reflections on Ayn Rand

11:55 | Jul 11th, 2018

George Smith discusses some good and bad influences that Ayn Rand’s ideas had on his own intellectual development.
Ayn Rand on Aristotle

13:38 | Jul 4th, 2018

George Smith examines some of Rand’s claims about the beneficial influence of Aristotle’s ideas on the course of Western civilization.
On the Influence of Ideas

15:45 | Jun 27th, 2018

George Smith discusses the issue of whether we should hold a philosopher responsible for the beliefs of those followers who agree with him.
Some Reflections on the History of Philosophy

16:56 | Jun 20th, 2018

George Smith explains the views of Kant and Hegel on the history of philosophy, and explores whether moral judgments should be applied to the realm of ideas.
Immanuel Kant and Nazism

12:02 | Jun 6th, 2018

Was Kant somehow responsible for the rise of Nazism? Smith explores two points of view on this issue.
Ernst Cassirer on Fascism and National Socialism

12:51 | May 30th, 2018

George H. Smith discusses the mythological thinking that dominated Nazi ideology, as explained in Cassirer’s book The Myth of the State.
Ayn Rand and the History of Philosophy

12:14 | May 24th, 2018

George Smith discusses whether we should hold a philosopher responsible for how other philosophers use his or her ideas.
Ayn Rand on Fascism

12:11 | May 23rd, 2018

George H. Smith explores Rand’s contention that America was sliding down a slippery slope to fascism.
John Locke: A Leveller Connection?

17:38 | May 16th, 2018

Smith examines and criticizes Richard Ashcraft’s arguments that Locke was significantly influenced by the Levellers.
John Locke: In Search of the Radical Locke

13:36 | May 9th, 2018

George H. Smith explains an important controversy about when the Two Treatises was written and the influence of the Levellers on Locke.
John Locke: Money and Private Property

11:09 | May 2nd, 2018

George H. Smith explains the significance, for Locke, of the increased productivity caused by labor, and the relationship between money and property.
John Locke: Some Qualifications in Locke’s Theory of Property

11:11 | Apr 25th, 2018

George H. Smith explains how Locke dealt with some problems in the traditional Christian theory of private property.
John Locke: Some Problems in Locke’s Theory of Private Property

13:11 | Apr 18th, 2018

George H. Smith discusses Robert Nozick’s criticisms of Locke’s property theory.
John Locke: Hermeneutics and Labor

12:18 | Apr 11th, 2018

George H. Smith explains Locke’s ideas on how we should interpret a philosophic text, and the relationship between labor and private property.
John Locke: The Justification of Private Property

10:01 | Apr 4th, 2018

In his first essay in a new series on John Locke, Smith explains some essential features of Locke’s case for private property.
Freethought and Freedom: John Locke on Property

10:48 | Mar 28th, 2018

George Smith discusses Locke’s view of the original commons, before the institution of private property.
Freethought and Freedom: Private Property and Natural Law

13:27 | Mar 21st, 2018

George Smith continues his discussion of how the theory of private property changed over the centuries.
FreeThought and Freedom: The Secularization of Private Property

14:20 | Mar 14th, 2018

Smith contrasts the modern secular approach to private property with the traditional Christian theory.
Freethought and Freedom: Early Christianity and the Modern Libertarian Movement

14:59 | Mar 7th, 2018

Does the modern libertarian movement have any significant similarities to the early Christian movement? Smith explores this intriguing possibility.
Freethought and Freedom: The Christian Theory of Property

10:34 | Feb 28th, 2018

George H. Smith discusses the traditional Christian theory of private property and how it was viewed as the result of original sin.
Freethought and Freedom: Jean Meslier on Property

12:44 | Feb 21st, 2018

Was Jean Meslier a communist? George H. Smith explores this tricky issue.
Freethought and Freedom: The Political Theory of Jean Meslier

12:15 | Feb 14th, 2018

George H. Smith critically examines the claim that Jean Meslier was a communist anarchist.
Freethought and Freedom: Jean Meslier and Christian Ethics

09:41 | Feb 7th, 2018

George H. Smith explains Jean Meslier’s three major objections to Christian morality, as taught by Jesus.
Freethought and Freedom: Jean Meslier and the Catholic Church

13:32 | Jan 31st, 2018

George H. Smith explains the role of the Catholic Church in the French government, and how Jean Meslier reconciled his atheism with his role as a priest.
Freethought and Freedom: Jean Meslier

14:53 | Jan 24th, 2018

George H. Smith explains some of the libertarian ideas of Jean Meslier, the notorious atheist-priest.
Freethought and Freedom: A Critique of Spinoza

12:43 | Jan 17th, 2018

George H. Smith criticizes some features of Benedict Spinoza’s political theory, especially his theory of rights.
Freethought and Freedom: Spinoza’s Political Theory

12:40 | Jan 10th, 2018

George H. Smith explains the fundamentals of Benedict Spinoza’s theory of rights and government.
Freethought and Freedom: Spinoza on Freedom of Religion and Speech

12:08 | Jan 3rd, 2018

George H. Smith continues his discussion of Benedict Spinoza by explaining how he defended freedom of religion and speech.
Freethought and Freedom: Spinoza on the Bible

12:37 | Dec 27th, 2017

George H. Smith explains why Benedict Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise became one of the most scandalous books ever published.
Freethought and Freedom: Benedict Spinoza

15:21 | Dec 20th, 2017

George H. Smith discusses Benedict Spinoza’s controversial ideas about God, religion, and his criticism of the Design Argument.
Freethought and Freedom: Francis Bacon and the Rise of Secularism

16:21 | Dec 13th, 2017

George H. Smith explains Francis Bacon’s defense of certainty and his contributions to a secular worldview.
Freethought and Freedom: Skepticism

11:08 | Dec 6th, 2017

Pyrrhonic skepticism had a tremendous influence on religious debates in post-Reformation Europe.
Freethought and Freedom: The Politics of Deism

12:57 | Nov 29th, 2017

George H. Smith explains the political implications of the deistic repudiation of special revelation and miracles.
Freethought and Freedom: John Toland and the Nature of Reason

16:55 | Nov 22nd, 2017

George H. Smith explains the controversial arguments of the deist John Toland, as defended in Christianity not Mysterious.
Freethought and Freedom: Miracles and Edward Gibbon

16:14 | Nov 15th, 2017

George H. Smith explains why Edward Gibbon rejected miraculous accounts in his masterpiece, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Freethought and Freedom: Deism, The Age of Reason, and Richard Carlile

11:07 | Nov 8th, 2017

George H. Smith explains the basic tenets of deism and why it posed a political threat.
Freethought and Freedom: The English Deists

12:45 | Nov 1st, 2017

George H. Smith explains the origins of deism and its basic ideas.
Freethought and Freedom: How Freethinkers Attempted to Avoid Persecution

11:31 | Oct 25th, 2017

George H. Smith explains some tactics that early freethinkers used in the attempt to avoid punishment for blasphemy and other religious crimes.
Freethought and Freedom: Shaftesbury on the Value of Ridicule

12:26 | Oct 18th, 2017

George H. Smith explores Shaftesbury’s defense of ridicule and satire in matters of religion.
Freethought and Freedom: Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin on Persecution

12:36 | Oct 11th, 2017

George H. Smith explains how some leading Christian theologians justified the death penalty for heretics and blasphemers.
Freethought and Freedom: The Problem of Heresy

09:55 | Oct 4th, 2017

George H. Smith explains the similarities between medieval heresy and our modern notion of treason against the state.
Freethought and Freedom: Augustine’s Case for Righteous Persecution

12:56 | Sep 27th, 2017

Augustine argued that religious persecution was justified when done in the interest of the salvation of those persecuted.
Freethought and Freedom: Introduction

23:13 | Jul 26th, 2017

George H. Smith begins his series on the historical relationship between religious skepticism and libertarianism.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: Bernard Mandeville v. Francis Hutcheson

16:42 | Jul 19th, 2017

George H. Smith discusses what Bernard Mandeville meant in saying that private vices produce public benefits, and how Francis Hutcheson criticized that theory.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: Mandeville on the Benefits of Vice

14:28 | Jul 14th, 2017

George H. Smith discusses Bernard Mandeville’s defense of legal prostitution and other vices.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: Bernard Mandeville

14:33 | Jul 7th, 2017

George H. Smith explains why Mandeville’s ideas about vice made him one of the most notorious writers of his time.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: Joseph Butler, Continued

16:23 | Jun 28th, 2017

George H. Smith continues his discussion of Joseph Butler’s theory of moral psychology, and summarizes his ideas about conscience and rational self-interest.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: Joseph Butler

15:36 | Jun 21st, 2017

George H. Smith discusses Joseph Butler’s influential theory of psychology and his ideas about self-interest and benevolence.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: The Selfish System

15:42 | Jun 14th, 2017

George H. Smith discusses various objections to the claim that all actions are necessarily self-interested.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: Thomas Hobbes

20:24 | Jun 7th, 2017

George H. Smith discusses the Hobbesian theory of self-interest and why classical liberals were so intent on refuting it.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: David Hume on Justice

17:04 | May 31st, 2017

George H. Smith explains David Hume’s theory of the social evolution of our ideas about justice.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: David Hume

17:36 | May 24th, 2017

George H. Smith begins his discussion of David Hume’s moral and social philosophy.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: Political Philosophy and Justice

19:33 | May 17th, 2017

George H. Smith explores two concepts of political philosophy and their respective ideas about justice and a good society.
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: Shaftesbury

20:02 | May 10th, 2017

George H. Smith begins his exploration of self-interest and social order by explaining Lord Shaftesbury’s theory of social psychology.
Social Laws, Part 10

16:32 | May 3rd, 2017

George H. Smith explores Emile Durkheim’s major objections to Herbert Spencer’s theory of a free society based on voluntary contracts.
Social Laws, Part 9

19:19 | Apr 26th, 2017

George H. Smith explores some features of social holism, as explained and defended by Emile Durkheim.
Social Laws, Part 8

20:15 | Apr 19th, 2017

George H. Smith explores the historical and theoretical roots of methodological individualism and subjectivism.
Social Laws, Part 7

22:22 | Apr 12th, 2017

George H. Smith discusses some controversial features of praxeology, as defended by Ludwig von Mises.
Social Laws, Part 6

14:24 | Apr 5th, 2017

George H. Smith explains methodological individualism and its implications for the existence of institutions and other social phenomena.
Social Laws, Part 5

13:43 | Mar 29th, 2017

George H. Smith discusses the value of sociology and some misconceptions of methodological individualism.
Social Laws, Part 4

18:55 | Mar 22nd, 2017

George H. Smith explains Herbert Spencer’s views of the scientific status of sociology, the nature of social laws, and the practical value of social science.
Social Laws, Part 3

12:17 | Mar 15th, 2017

George H. Smith explores the controversy over whether sociology qualifies as an authentic science.
Social Laws, Part 2

13:24 | Mar 8th, 2017

George H. Smith explains how the methodological monism of modern positivism differs from classical empiricism.
Social Laws, Part 1

12:21 | Mar 1st, 2017

George H. Smith explains methodological subjectivism and how it applies to the study of human action.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 11

16:29 | Feb 22nd, 2017

George H. Smith discusses Thomas Paine’s welfare proposals in Rights of Man and Agrarian Justice.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 10

13:10 | Feb 15th, 2017

George H. Smith explains Paine’s views on paper money, price controls, self-interest, and exploitative governments.
Independence Day: What is There to Celebrate?

09:30 | Feb 8th, 2017

The ideal of individual freedom is more than a will-o’-the-wisp. It was widely appreciated in the past and so may become widely appreciated in the future.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 9

13:44 | Feb 1st, 2017

George H. Smith explains some of Thomas Paine’s ideas about the nature of a republic and the benefits of a representative form of government.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 8

14:04 | Jan 25th, 2017

George H. Smith explains Edmund Burke’s argument against majority rule and a constitution based on the consent of the governed.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 7

12:53 | Jan 18th, 2017

George H. Smith explains Thomas Paine’s constitutional theory and why Paine believed that Britain had no constitution.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 6

13:31 | Jan 11th, 2017

How the libertarian ideas of Richard Price motivated Burke to write Reflections on the Revolution in France, and how Paine dealt with the controversy.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 5

13:36 | Jan 4th, 2017

George H. Smith continues his discussion of Thomas Paine’s theory of rights and government.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 4

12:14 | Dec 28th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses Thomas Paine’s theory of rights.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 3

16:14 | Dec 21st, 2016

George H. Smith discusses Thomas Erskine’s ideas on libel laws and freedom of the press, and how he incorporated those ideas during his defense of Thomas Paine.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 2

12:39 | Dec 14th, 2016

In 1792, Thomas Paine was tried for seditious libel. In this essay, George H. Smith discusses the prosecution’s case.
Thomas Paine Versus Edmund Burke, Part 1

17:08 | Dec 7th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses some background of the debate between Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke, and the furor created by Paine’s Rights of Man.
Edmund Burke, Intellectuals, and the French Revolution, Part 6

13:34 | Nov 30th, 2016

George H. Smith concludes this series with more observations about James Mackintosh’s defense of natural rights.
Edmund Burke, Intellectuals, and the French Revolution, Part 5

15:00 | Nov 23rd, 2016

George H. Smith explains why Edmund Burke opposed abstract rights and why James Mackintosh defended them.
Edmund Burke, Intellectuals, and the French Revolution, Part 4

14:16 | Nov 16th, 2016

George H. Smith explains the defense of rights and other abstract political principles given by James Mackintosh, one of Burke’s most effective critics.
Edmund Burke, Intellectuals, and the French Revolution, Part 3

15:10 | Nov 9th, 2016

George H. Smith explains why Burke predicted that the French Revolution would end in systematic violence.
Edmund Burke, Intellectuals, and the French Revolution, Part 2

14:23 | Nov 2nd, 2016

After criticizing Murray Rothbard’s interpretation of Edmund Burke’s first book, Smith summarizes Burke’s primary objections to rationalistic intellectuals.
Edmund Burke, Intellectuals, and the French Revolution, Part 1

13:53 | Oct 26th, 2016

Edmund Burke condemned the French Revolution as a “digest of anarchy.” What relevance does his critique have for the modern libertarian movement?
Intellectuals and Libertarianism: Thomas Sowell and Robert Nisbet

14:59 | Oct 19th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses the role of modern intellectuals in government.
Intellectuals and Libertarianism: F. A. Hayek

11:48 | Oct 12th, 2016

George H. Smith explores F. A. Hayek’s views on intellectuals, whom Hayek called professional secondhand dealers in ideas.
Toward an Interdisciplinary Study of Liberty, Part 2

22:19 | Oct 5th, 2016

A far-ranging discussion of the meanings of key terms in libertarianism, ideology, and the crucial elements needed for an understanding of individual freedom.
Toward an Interdisciplinary Study of Liberty, Part 1

18:25 | Sep 28th, 2016

George H. Smith begins his discussion of the need for an interdisciplinary approach to liberty by noting some hazards of academic specialization.
Rudolf Rocker and the Will to Power, Part 2

14:38 | Sep 21st, 2016

George H. Smith explains Rocker’s theory of why the ideas of classical liberalism were swamped by the rising tide of statism.
Rudolf Rocker and the Will to Power, Part 1

15:54 | Sep 14th, 2016

In Nationalism and Culture, a classic history of libertarian ideas, Rudolf Rocker uses the struggle of freedom against power as his theoretical framework.
The Lust for Power

13:58 | Sep 7th, 2016

George H. Smith explains how the insatiable desire for power and its corrupting influence have been dominant themes in libertarian theory and history.
Value Judgments and the Human Sciences

15:29 | Aug 31st, 2016

George H. Smith examines the problem of whether the human sciences can be value-free, and if so in what sense.
Ideas, Human Action, and Social Change

13:08 | Aug 24th, 2016

George H. Smith explores various ways in which ideas influence human action, and why ideas are essential to the success of libertarianism.
State and Society, Part 3

10:40 | Aug 17th, 2016

George H. Smith, drawing from Machiavelli’s The Prince, discusses two essential ingredients of successful states.
State and Society, Part 2

14:42 | Aug 10th, 2016

George H. Smith explains the meaning of “society” and “institution,” and he discusses the distinction between designed and undesigned institutions.
State and Society, Part 1

15:17 | Aug 3rd, 2016

George H. Smith discusses some preliminary issues involved in the classic libertarian distinction between the spheres of “state” and “society.”
Tracking Freedom with the Human Sciences, Part 2

14:23 | Jul 27th, 2016

George H. Smith examines the common claim that the mere threat of physical force does not qualify as a type of coercion.
Tracking Freedom with the Human Sciences, Part 1

16:03 | Jul 20th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses the distinction between freedom and coercion, and explains some of its implications for the human sciences.
Methodology of the Human Sciences

15:45 | Jul 13th, 2016

George H. Smith presents an overview of the philosophy of the human sciences.
What are the Human Sciences?

15:05 | Jul 6th, 2016

Defending freedom requires an interdisciplinary approach, so George H. Smith turns to the “human sciences”—and also to a definition of science itself.
The Culture of Liberty: Wilhelm von Humboldt

15:08 | Jun 29th, 2016

George H. Smith explores Humboldt’s defense of individuality, written in 1792.
The Other Adam Smith, Part 5

11:55 | Jun 22nd, 2016

George H. Smith discusses Adam Smith’s views on a standing army and his arguments for competition in education.
The Other Adam Smith, Part 4

14:16 | Jun 15th, 2016

George Smith explores Adam Smith’s views on Columbus, smuggling, and education.
The Other Adam Smith, Part 3

13:48 | Jun 8th, 2016

George Smith discusses Adam Smith’s views on sin taxes and slavery.
The Other Adam Smith, Part 2

13:48 | Jun 1st, 2016

George H. Smith discusses Adam Smith’s social, political, and moral objections to governmental interference in the economy as found in the Wealth of Nations.
The Other Adam Smith, Part 1

19:45 | May 25th, 2016

George H. Smith explains what Adam Smith meant by the “invisible hand” and how he used this explanatory method throughout his writings.
A Gossipy Interlude: George Eliot, Herbert Spencer, and John Chapman, Part 3

14:44 | May 18th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses the significant role played by John Chapman in the lives of Herbert Spencer, George Eliot, and G. H. Lewes.
A Gossipy Interlude: George Eliot, Herbert Spencer, and John Chapman, Part 2

36:01 | May 11th, 2016

George H. Smith criticizes an influential book by Mark Francis, Herbert Spencer and the Invention of Modern Life.
A Gossipy Interlude: George Eliot, Herbert Spencer, and John Chapman, Part 1

14:21 | May 4th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses the complex personal relationships among three leading classical liberals in Victorian England.
Thomas Hodgskin Versus Herbert Spencer, Part 3

14:58 | Apr 27th, 2016

Smith compares the positions of Hodgskin and Smith on the history of landownership, and their opposition to the political power of the landed aristocracy.
Thomas Hodgskin Versus Herbert Spencer, Part 2

14:12 | Apr 20th, 2016

George H. Smith continues his series on the thought of Thomas Hodgskin by explaining his belief in natural property rights.
Thomas Hodgskin Versus Herbert Spencer, Part 1

17:26 | Apr 13th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses the common allegation that Herbert Spencer took many of his ideas from Thomas Hodgskin without acknowledging their source.
Herbert Spencer, Henry George, and the Land Question, Part 6

14:30 | Apr 6th, 2016

George H. Smith concludes his in-depth examination of Spencer’s fundamental objection to the private ownership of land.
Herbert Spencer, Henry George, and the Land Question, Part 5

12:22 | Mar 30th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses some criticisms by Auberon Herbert and Thomas Hodgskin of Spencer’s position on land.
Herbert Spencer, Henry George, and the Land Question, Part 4

17:45 | Mar 23rd, 2016

George H. Smith explains and criticizes two more of Spencer’s arguments against private property in land.
Herbert Spencer, Henry George, and the Land Question, Part 3

11:51 | Mar 16th, 2016

George H. Smith explains Herbert Spencer’s fundamental objection to the private ownership of land.
Herbert Spencer, Henry George, and the Land Question, Part 2

13:44 | Mar 9th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses the mutual misunderstandings of Spencer and George, and George’s effective criticism of Spencer’s weak defense of private property.
Herbert Spencer, Henry George, and the Land Question, Part 1

12:50 | Mar 2nd, 2016

George H. Smith discusses Henry George’s allegation that Spencer’s later views on land ownership were intellectually dishonest.
Among My Favorites: History of Civilization in England, by H. T. Buckle, Part 4

13:09 | Feb 24th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses Buckle’s claim that Adam Smith was one of the most brilliant and influential thinkers in the history of the modern world.
Among My Favorites: History of Civilization in England, by H. T. Buckle, Part 3

17:57 | Feb 17th, 2016

George H. Smith explores Buckle’s claim that the “protective spirit” of governments has hindered the progress of civilization.
Among My Favorites: History of Civilization in England, by H. T. Buckle, Part 2

13:53 | Feb 10th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses Buckle’s stress on the importance of ideas in the progress of civilization.
Natural Rights and the Moral Foundations of Libertarianism, Part 2

17:13 | Feb 3rd, 2016

After discussing some implications of early works on international law for libertarian theory, Smith concludes with a defense of Ayn Rand’s theory of rights.
Natural Rights and the Moral Foundations of Libertarianism, Part 1

17:28 | Jan 27th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses the meaning of “natural rights” and some historical aspects of this theory.
Among My Favorites: History of Civilization in England, by H. T. Buckle, Part 1

13:41 | Jan 20th, 2016

George H. Smith begins his discussion of one of the most libertarian works on history ever written.
Defending the Non-Aggression Principle: A Reply to Matt Zwolinski Part 5

18:59 | Jan 13th, 2016

George H. Smith discusses various formulations of the non-aggression principle and concludes with some remarks about the problem of pollution.
Defending the Non-Aggression Principle: A Reply to Matt Zwolinski Part 4

13:57 | Jan 6th, 2016

George H. Smith presents the rudiments of a theory of children’s rights.
Defending the Non-Aggression Principle: A Reply to Matt Zwolinski Part 3

14:10 | Dec 30th, 2015

George H. Smith criticizes Zwolinski’s discussions of risk, fraud, and the relationship between aggression and property rights.
Defending the Non-Aggression Principle: A Reply to Matt Zwolinski Part 2

17:57 | Dec 23rd, 2015

George H. Smith criticizes Zwolinski’s discussions of risk, fraud, and the relationship between aggression and property rights.
Defending the Non-Aggression Principle: A Reply to Matt Zwolinski, Part 1

20:49 | Dec 16th, 2015

George H. Smith examines the claim that the non-aggression principle should be viewed as a defeasible presumption.
Ludwig von Mises and Economic Calculation Under Socialism, Part 2

12:49 | Dec 9th, 2015

George H. Smith explains why Mises predicted that “planned chaos” would emerge in a socialist economy and how F.A. Hayek elaborated on that insight.
Ludwig von Mises and Economic Calculation Under Socialism, Part 1

12:11 | Nov 25th, 2015

Smith discusses the theory of value that provided the foundation for the argument that rational economic calculation is impossible in a socialistic economy.
Notes on Persecution and Toleration in the History of Christianity

15:03 | Nov 18th, 2015

George H. Smith explores some of the traditional biblical arguments for and against religious persecution.
Lord Acton and the History of Liberty, Part 3

16:06 | Nov 11th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses Acton’s thesis that the conflict between church and state in medieval Europe was vital to the progress of freedom.
Lord Acton and the History of Liberty, Part 2

15:43 | Nov 4th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses some common criticisms of Lord Acton and other classical liberal historians.
Lord Acton and the History of Liberty, Part 1

11:27 | Oct 28th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses some of Lord Acton’s ideas about freedom and their relevance to the modern libertarian movement.
Freedom, Rights, and Political Philosophy, Part 5

12:49 | Oct 21st, 2015

George H. Smith explores some theoretical aspects of a rights-based conception of freedom.
Freedom, Rights, and Political Philosophy, Part 4

11:35 | Oct 14th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses a metaphor that was widely used by early libertarian writers who defended the natural equality of humankind.
Freedom, Rights, and Political Philosophy, Part 3

14:43 | Oct 7th, 2015

Smith discusses the distinction between political obligation and political allegiance, and how the problem of allegiance was the major concern of John Locke.
Freedom, Rights, and Political Philosophy, Part 2

15:52 | Sep 30th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses the major criticism of natural rights and the consent theory of government – that these doctrines will land us in anarchy.
Freedom, Rights, and Political Philosophy, Part 1

13:46 | Sep 23rd, 2015

George H. Smith broadens his discussion of a rights-based theory of freedom with an overview of modern political philosophy.
Negative and Positive Liberty: Some Historical Reflections

11:42 | Sep 16th, 2015

George H. Smith considers the different conceptions of freedom defended by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
Thoughts on Libertarian Strategy for the New Year

11:21 | Sep 9th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses his ideas about “strategic Taoism.”
Negative and Positive Liberty, Part 2

12:26 | Sep 2nd, 2015

George H. Smith discusses some of the problems in libertarian theory caused by the many different conceptions of liberty.
Negative and Positive Liberty

12:30 | Aug 26th, 2015

George H. Smith criticizes Jason Brennan’s defense of positive liberty and his attempt to make positive liberty an essential part of libertarian theory.
Instead of a Review: A Commentary on Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Jason Brennan, Part 2

12:00 | Aug 19th, 2015

George H. Smith criticizes Jason Brennan’s view of the origin of “hard libertarianism” and his treatment of Ayn Rand.
Instead of a Review: A Commentary on Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Jason Brennan

17:01 | Aug 12th, 2015

Smith begins his critical examination of Jason Brennan’s recent book with a discussion of the label “libertarianism” and its relationship to classical liberalism.
Ayn Rand and Altruism, Part 5

11:52 | Aug 5th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses why Ayn Rand believed that altruism is incompatible with benevolence and charitable actions.
Ayn Rand and Altruism, Part 4

12:25 | Jul 29th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses Ayn Rand’s notion of self-sacrifice and the crucial role that duty played in her theory of altruism.
Ayn Rand and Altruism, Part 3

11:56 | Jul 22nd, 2015

George H. Smith explores Ayn Rand’s contention that altruism plays an indispensable role in the justification of political collectivism.
Ayn Rand and Altruism, Part 2

12:15 | Jul 15th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses one of Rand’s major objections to both altruism and the traditional concept of egoism.
Ayn Rand and Altruism, Part 1

13:30 | Jul 8th, 2015

George H. Smith begins his series on Ayn Rand’s critique of altruism with a discussion of the ideas of Auguste Comte, the man who coined the word “altruism.”
Introducing Anarchism & Justice, by Roy A. Childs, Jr., Part 5

16:08 | Jul 1st, 2015

George H. Smith concludes the series with a look at Roy Childs’s evolving views on anarchism.
Introducing Anarchism & Justice, by Roy A. Childs, Jr., Part 4

17:53 | Jun 24th, 2015

George H. Smith turns to what may be Roy Childs’s most recognized role in the libertarian movement: book reviewer.
Introducing Anarchism & Justice, by Roy A. Childs, Jr., Part 3

19:52 | Jun 17th, 2015

George H. Smith tackles several misconceptions about the theory of anarchism—and contrasts it with the condition of anarchy.
Introducing Anarchism & Justice, by Roy A. Childs, Jr., Part 2

09:42 | Jun 10th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses the influence of Robert LeFevre on the developing anarchism of Roy A. Childs, Jr.
Introducing Anarchism & Justice, by Roy A. Childs, Jr., Part 1

11:56 | Jun 3rd, 2015

George H. Smith begins his series on Roy A. Childs, Jr., with the impact Childs’s anarchism had on his own thinking.
Jack and Jill and Two Kinds of Freedom

15:24 | May 27th, 2015

George H. Smith analyzes two kinds of freedom, pragmatic and moral, and gives examples of how this distinction has been used in the history of libertarian thought.
From Optimism to Pessimism: The Case of Herbert Spencer, Part 7

16:20 | May 20th, 2015

Herbert Spencer feared granting suffrage to women – at least during his time – would diminish “real” liberty. Was this a justifiable concern?
From Optimism to Pessimism: The Case of Herbert Spencer, Part 6

14:22 | May 13th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses how Herbert Spencer’s analyses of nineteenth-century Germany and France contributed to his pessimistic outlook on the future of freedom.
From Optimism to Pessimism: The Case of Herbert Spencer, Part 5

14:58 | May 6th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses some of Spencer’s concerns about the intellectual and moral obstacles to achieving a free society.
From Optimism to Pessimism: The Case of Herbert Spencer, Part 4

15:21 | Apr 29th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses Spencer’s theory of social progress, while calling attention to some of its theoretical problems.
From Optimism to Pessimism: The Case of Herbert Spencer, Part 3

12:36 | Apr 22nd, 2015

George H. Smith discusses Spencer’s opposition to the Boer War—a cause that dominated the last several years of his life.
From Optimism to Pessimism: The Case of Herbert Spencer, Part 2

16:10 | Apr 15th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses the controversy about Spencer’s use of opium and its possible effect on his later pessimism.
From Optimism to Pessimism: The Case of Herbert Spencer, Part 1

11:06 | Apr 8th, 2015

George H. Smith begins his series on Spencer’s pessimistic outlook on the future of freedom and the reasons behind it.
Thomas Hodgskin Versus Jeremy Bentham

15:00 | Apr 1st, 2015

George H. Smith discusses Thomas Hodgskin’s critique of utilitarianism and his contention that the primary concern of legislators is to preserve their own power.
Jeremy Bentham's Attack on Natural Rights

15:58 | Mar 25th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and why it so alarmed the defenders of natural rights.
Thomas Hodgskin: Libertarian Extraordinaire, Part 4

15:54 | Mar 18th, 2015

Smith continues his discussion of Thomas Hodgskin by exploring some of the key arguments in his neglected book,Popular Political Economy.
Thomas Hodgskin: Libertarian Extraordinaire, Part 3

14:08 | Mar 11th, 2015

George H. Smith begins his discussion of the free-market theories of Thomas Hodgskin.
Thomas Hodgskin: Libertarian Extraordinaire, Part 2

15:32 | Mar 4th, 2015

George H. Smith discusses Thomas Hodgskin’s most controversial work, Labour Defended Against the Claims of Capital.
Thomas Hodgskin: Libertarian Extraordinaire, Part 1

14:28 | Mar 2nd, 2015

Smith begins his series on Thomas Hodgskin, one of the most remarkable, if little known and unjustly neglected, libertarian thinkers of the nineteenth century.
Neoconservatism Versus Libertarianism, Part 3

12:30 | Feb 18th, 2015

George H. Smith explores the ideas of Irving Kristol and Robert Bork on culture. He begins with a discussion of the anti-jazz crusade of the 1920s.
Neoconservatism Versus Libertarianism, Part 2

11:35 | Feb 11th, 2015

George H. Smith tells the story of how a disagreement with Roy Childs over the ideas of Irving Kristol resulted in a serious argument.
Neoconservatism Versus Libertarianism, Part 1

17:37 | Feb 4th, 2015

George H. Smith begins his series on neoconservatism by exploring some of its fundamental differences with libertarianism.
Thomas Jefferson on Public Education, Part 2

12:25 | Jan 28th, 2015

Smith explores Thomas Jefferson’s belief in the value of history, and his plan for public universities.
Barack Obama, Social Darwinism, and Survival of the Fittest, Part 3

17:08 | Jan 21st, 2015

George H. Smith concludes this series with a close look at Herbert Spencer’s views on charity and the poor.
Barack Obama, Social Darwinism, and Survival of the Fittest, Part 2

12:54 | Jan 14th, 2015

Smith continues his discussion of Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner, explaining how they explicitly repudiated the ideas associated with social Darwinism.
Barack Obama, Social Darwinism, and Survival of the Fittest, Part 1

16:34 | Jan 7th, 2015

George H. Smith interrupts his series on education with a discussion of social Darwinism.
Thomas Jefferson on Public Education, Part 1

12:55 | Dec 31st, 2014

George H. Smith discusses Jefferson’s ideas about education and his plan for a decentralized system of public schools.
Critics of State Education Part 4: A Free Market in Education

12:29 | Dec 24th, 2014

George H. Smith explores the Voluntaryist critique of those who support free trade in religion and commerce but advocate state interference in education.
Critics of State Education Part 3: The Problem of Indoctrination and the Need for Diversity

15:53 | Dec 17th, 2014

George H. Smith explores some more Voluntaryist arguments against state education.
Critics of State Education Part 2: The British Voluntaryists

15:50 | Dec 10th, 2014

George H. Smith turns to the philosophy of Voluntaryism, discussing how its proponents fought against state control of education in the nineteenth century.
Critics of State Education Part 1: Joseph Priestley

14:30 | Dec 3rd, 2014

George H. Smith begins his series on the critics of state education with a discussion of Joseph Priestley, the Englishman who discovered oxygen.
The Roots of State Education Part 3: Aristotle and Civic Virtue

14:43 | Nov 26th, 2014

George H. Smith continues his examination of the intellectual roots of state education by turning to the views of Plato’s most famous student.
The Roots of State Education Part 2: Plato's Case Against Free-Market Education

12:55 | Nov 19th, 2014

History’s first great philosopher wasn’t a fan of educational freedom.
The Roots of State Education Part 1: The Spartan Model

11:21 | Nov 12th, 2014

George H. Smith discusses how the educational system of Sparta influenced later advocates of state education.
Monopolies, Mercantilism, Illegal Buttons, and Saltpeter Men

12:39 | Nov 5th, 2014

George H. Smith offers a glance at a few economic regulations throughout history.
Fingering the King on the Road to Independence

14:14 | Oct 29th, 2014

The Coercive Acts led Americans to blame the king for the conspiracy to strip them of their rights and liberties.
The Coercive Acts and Their Theoretical Significance

13:25 | Oct 22nd, 2014

The Coercive Acts—the British response to the Boston Tea Party—was the true catalyst that led to the American Revolution.
The Boston Tea Party

13:50 | Oct 15th, 2014

The British response to the Boston Tea Party stiffened American resolve for revolution. George Smith tells the story of that event.
Committees of Correspondence and the Road to American Independence

14:32 | Oct 8th, 2014

The story of the American Revolution’s prelude continues with the emergence of Committees of Correspondence among the colonists.
The Boston Massacre

11:33 | Oct 1st, 2014

George H. Smith continues his look at the events leading up to the American Revolution by telling the story of the Boston Massacre.
A Misunderstanding, the Townshend Act, and More Trouble in the American Colonies

15:14 | Sep 24th, 2014

George H. Smith uses some of the crucial events that led to the American Revolution as background to explain the theory of resistance and revolution that emerged.
The Sons of Liberty and Resistance to the Stamp Act, Part Two

11:26 | Sep 17th, 2014

George H. Smith turns his attention to events after the Boston riots. As violence spread throughout the colonies, America moved ever closer to revolution.
“Liberty and Property!” The Sons of Liberty and Resistance to the Stamp Act Part 1

12:40 | Sep 10th, 2014

George H. Smith recounts the violent reaction to the Stamp Act, a tax on paper goods levied against the American colonies in 1765.
Americans with Attitudes: Smuggling in Colonial America

14:59 | Sep 3rd, 2014

George H. Smith explores America’s proud history of smuggling in the colonies—and the disastrous attempts by the British to put an end to it.
The Philosophy of the Declaration of Independence: Part 2

16:03 | Aug 27th, 2014

George H. Smith examines two instances of curious wording in the Declaration of Independence.
The Philosophy of the Declaration of Independence: Part 1

13:50 | Aug 20th, 2014

George H. Smith continues his series on the Declaration of Independence by looking to the intellectual history behind its famous reference to unalienable rights.
Was Thomas Jefferson a Plagiarist?

14:49 | Aug 13th, 2014

Jefferson drew on a rich intellectual tradition when he drafted the Declaration of Independence. But did he draw directly from contemporary works, as well?
“That Audacious Document”: Notes on the Declaration of Independence

12:36 | Aug 6th, 2014

George H. Smith begins a series of essays on the Declaration of Independence by examining colonial reaction to its list of grievances.
Religious Toleration Versus Religious Freedom

11:44 | Jul 30th, 2014

George H. Smith distinguishes “tolerating” religious difference from recognizing a genuine right to religious freedom.