The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism

Front Cover
Ronald Hamowy
SAGE, 2008 M08 15 - 623 pages
2 Reviews
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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, in both academia and politics. With more than 300 A-to-Z signed entries written by top scholars, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism is purposed to be a useful compilation of and introduction to libertarian scholarship. The Encyclopedia starts with an introductory essay offering an extensive historical and thematic overview of key thinkers, events, and publications in the development of libertarian thought. The Reader's Guide groups content for researchers and students alike, allowing them to study libertarianism topically, biographically, and by public policy issues.

Key Features

  • Entries conclude with bibliographies and references for further reading and cross-references to related entries.
  • Each entry provides an introduction to a topic or policy question relevant to libertarianism or a biography of a person who has had an impact on libertarianism.
  • Editors take special care to ensure entries clearly explain libertarian approaches to issues, do not take sides on disputed matters or engage in polemics, and represent the views of all sides fairly and accurately.

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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.

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This looks like a great read... too bad the scan is so low resolution. It's illegible.


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.

Bibliographic information