The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism

Front Cover
Ronald Hamowy
SAGE, 2008 M08 15 - 623 pages
Recent years have seen the reemergence of libertarian thought as a significant force, both in the academy and in political life. As libertarian ideas have gained in prominence, so has the need for a standard reference work. Accordingly, this project has been initiated to serve as a useful introduction to and compendium of libertarian scholarship via a series of brief articles on the historical, sociological, and economic aspects of libertarianism within the broader context.

As a continuation of the older tradition of classical liberalism, libertarian thinking draws on a rich body of thought and scholarship. Contemporary libertarian scholars are continuing that tradition by making substantial contributions to such fields as philosophy, jurisprudence, economics, evolutionary psychology, political theory, and history. Notably, a number of economists who profess classical liberal or libertarian views have received the Nobel Prize in recent years, such as Vernon Smith. Robert Nozick′s book Anarchy, State, & Utopia sparked a tremendous debate among philosophers and has influenced moral and political theory. Evolutionary psychology has emerged as a new forum for the study of human nature, and much of that work has been pioneered by libertarian-leaning thinkers. Ronald Coase, Richard Posner, Richard Epstein, and others have revitalized the study of jurisprudence by focusing attention on incentives and on such grown institutions as property and common-law rules. Libertarians also have been active in political life, especially since the collapse of the communist states, which focused attention on problems of the formation and evolution of rights and legal institutions. The works of libertarian thinkers such as F. A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, and Milton Friedman are now available in dozens of languages, much as the works of Marx and Lenin were decades ago.

Within the entries contained in this encyclopedia, readers will find overviews of all this and more.


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thaks for the source

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I didn't know whether to give this book a 5 or a 1. So let me explain the poor rating I decided on.
It pretty much deserves a 5 because it does present the libertarian viewpoints on a wide variety of
It got a 1 because of a wide variety of misrepresentations of opposing viewpoints. It got a 1 because of serious failures in argumentation (reading the entry on "Democracy"). And it got a 1 because of sheer cluelessness (the entries on Thomas Hobbes and John Rawls stand out in my memory).
And I haven't read the entire book from cover to cover - I've been going from topic to topic depending on degree of interest, and of course, reading the entries that I did not expect (Hobbes, Rawls), but know of because I am familiar with their work.
So the Encyclopedia has been a bit of an Alice in Wonderland experience, but it certainly is reflective of contemporary libertarian thinking.
So as a source book for libertarian thinking, it is a good resource. As to the entries on non-libertarian thinkers, caveat lector.


List of Entries
Readers Guide
About the Editors
Editors Introduction
General Introduction


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About the author (2008)

Ronald Hamowy is a Fellow in Social Thought at the Cato Institute. He is professor of history emeritus at the University of Alberta and previously was assistant director of the History of Western Civilization Program at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in social thought under F. A. Hayek at the University of Chicago. He is the author of books on the Scottish Enlightenment and on health care and the editor of a book on drug prohibition and the Liberty Press edition of Cato’s Letters. He is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international society of scholars founded in 1947 by Hayek, Friedman, and other luminaries of the libertarian movement.

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