Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know®

ISBN : 9780199933914

Jason Brennan
232 ページ
147 x 208 mm
What Everyone Needs to Know



  • Comprehensive primer on Libertarianism, written by a leading scholar of libertarian and classical liberal theory.
  • Written engaging Q&A format.
  • Combines intimate knowledge of the subject with the objectivity necessary to edify a skeptical reader.

Historically, Americans have seen libertarians as far outside the mainstream, but with the rise of the Tea Party movement, libertarian principles have risen to the forefront of Republican politics. But libertarianism is more than the philosophy of individual freedom and unfettered markets that Republicans have embraced. Indeed, as Jason Brennan points out, libertarianism is a quite different—and far richer—system of thought than most of us suspect. 
In this timely new entry in Oxford's acclaimed series What Everyone Needs to Know, Brennan offers a nuanced portrait of libertarianism, proceeding through a series of questions to illuminate the essential elements of libertarianism and the problems the philosophy addresses, including such topics as the Value of Liberty, Human Nature and Ethics, Economic Liberty, Civil Rights, Social Justice and the Poor, Government and Democracy, and Contemporary Politics. Brennan asks the most fundamental and challenging questions: What do Libertarians think liberty is? Do libertarians think everyone should be selfish? Are libertarians just out to protect the interests of big business? What do libertarians think we should do about racial injustice? What would libertarians do about pollution? Are Tea Party activists true libertarians? As he sheds light on libertarian beliefs, Brennan overturns numerous misconceptions. Libertarianism is not about simple-minded paranoia about government, he writes. Rather, it celebrates the ideal of peaceful cooperation among free and equal people. Libertarians believe that the rich always capture political power; they want to minimize the power available to them in order to protect the weak. Brennan argues that libertarians are, in fact, animated by benevolence and a deep concern for the poor. 
Clear, concise, and incisively written, this volume explains a vitally important philosophy in American history—and a potent force in contemporary politics.


1. What is libertarianism?
2. Why do we need to know about libertarianism?
3. What are the different kinds of libertarians?
4. Are libertarians right-wing conservatives?
5. Are libertarians left-wing liberals?
6. Is libertarianism a new political view?
7. How did libertarianism develop?
8. What are the moral foundations of libertarianism?

9. What do libertarians think liberty is?
10. Why do libertarians think liberty is important?
11. Do libertarians think liberty is the only value?
12. What is the "presumption of liberty "?
13. What rights do libertarians think we have?
14. Do libertarians think rights are absolute?
15. Do libertarians think the consequences matter?

16. Do libertarians believe everyone is selfish?
17. Do libertarians think everyone should be selfish?
18. Do libertarians have an overly optimistic view of human nature?
19. Are libertarians moral relativists or moral skeptics?
20. Are libertarians individualists?
21. Are libertarians all atheists?

22. What economic rights do libertarians think we have?
23. Are libertarians only concerned about economic issues?
24. Why do libertarians favor strong economic liberty and private property rights?
25. Do libertarians think property rights are absolute?
26. Why are libertarians so concerned about economic growth, prosperity, and wealth?
27. Why do libertarians want open markets and free trade?
28. Are libertarians just out to protect the interests of big business?
29. What do libertarians think about union rights?
30. Why do libertarians oppose socialism?
31. Why are libertarians against rent control and minimum wage increases?
32. Why don't libertarians want government to set prices?
33. Do libertarians oppose all regulation?
34. Why do libertarians think government regulation frequently makes things worse?
35. Do libertarians think markets always work? Do libertarians deny the existence of market failures?
36. Why do libertarians tend to oppose eminent domain laws?

37. What do libertarians think about civil liberties?
38. What is the libertarian view of free speech?
39. What do libertarians think about abortion?
40. Are libertarians for or against capital punishment?
41. Why are libertarians in favor of drug decriminalization?
42. Why do libertarians support same-sex marriage?
43. Why do libertarians oppose the draft?
44. What do libertarians think we should do about historical and current racial injustice?
45. What do libertarians think about gun control?
46. What do libertarians think about mandatory national service?
47. What do libertarians think about gambling?
48. What do libertarians think about pornography?
49. Are libertarians soft on crime?

50. Do libertarians only care about the rich?
51. What is social justice?
52. Do most libertarians reject social justice?
53. Do all libertarians reject social justice?
54. What do libertarians think about economic equality?
55. What would libertarians do about the poor?
56. What do libertarians believe about foreign aid to the world's poor
57. Why don't libertarians favor an extensive welfare state?
58. How could social justice possibly be achieved without an extensive welfare state?
59. Do libertarians think all problems can be solved with charity?
60. Do libertarians think the poor are to blame for their own poverty?

61. How do libertarians define "government "?
62. Why do libertarians dislike "big government "?
63. Are libertarians anarchists?
64. Do libertarians think politicians are selfish and evil?
65. What is "government failure "? What is the libertarian view on it?
66. Do libertarians favor democracy?
67. Do libertarians think democracy makes us more free?
68. Why do libertarians tend to think voters are ignorant and irrational?
69. What is the libertarian view of civic virtue and good citizenship?
70. What do libertarians think about the Constitution?
71. Are libertarians nationalists or cosmopolitans?

72. Why do libertarians want to open borders and open immigration?
73. Why do libertarians oppose interventionist foreign policy?
74. What would libertarians do about the war on terror?
75. Why do libertarians oppose the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security?
76. What would libertarians do about pollution?
77. What would libertarians do about overfishing and overforesting?
78. What would libertarians do about the sick who cannot afford health care?
79. What would libertarians do about public schools?
80. What would libertarians do to fix the economy?
81. Are libertarians in favor of allowing organ sales?
82. Do libertarians think all taxation is theft and slavery?
83. How would libertarians reduce crime?
84. What would libertarians do about the financial crisis?
85. Do libertarians think markets will solve all problems?
86. Didn't libertarian housing policies cause the financial crisis?
87. What do libertarians think about campaign finance reform?

88. How much influence does libertarianism have in contemporary politics?
89. Is libertarianism a popular view?
90. Are Tea Party activists libertarians?
91. What organizations do libertarians support?
92. Did the United States begin as a libertarian country but move away from libertarianism?
93. Which country is the most libertarian? Is it the United States?
94. Which states in the US are the most and least libertarian?
95. What percentage of Americans are libertarian?
96. Are libertarians utopian?
97. Is libertarianism feasible?
98. Why are some libertarians trying to move to form their own private countries or take control of certain states?
99. Is the US becoming more or less libertarian?
100. Is the world becoming more or less libertarian?


Jason Brennan, Assistant Professor of Business and Philosophy, Georgetown University
Jason Brennan is Assistant Professor of Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University. He is the author of The Ethics of Voting and co-author of A Brief History of Liberty. He also writes for the popular blog Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

"a highly accessible primer to libertarian thought ... Recommended." - R.J. Meagher, CHOICE

"Brennan, ethics and economics scholar, offers a very clear and concise explanation of libertarianism, its historical roots, and its increasing relevance to contemporary politics...A fascinating primer on a philosophy that is gaining attention." -Booklist