100 books like On Liberty

By John Stuart Mill,

Here are 100 books that On Liberty fans have personally recommended if you like On Liberty. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Prince

Keith Grint Author Of Leadership: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on understanding why we get the leaders we do.

Who am I?

There’s something about leadership that intrigues me. I was an army child and that might help explain why I was expelled from school and had a rather unorthodox pre-academic career: I had fourteen jobs in nine years between leaving school and starting university, and several of those involved significant leadership roles that clashed with managerial authority. Both my undergraduate degrees and my doctorate were focused on trying to understand how authority worked, so it was almost inevitable that I ended up as a leadership scholar. But my greatest achievements have been co-founding the journal Leadership in 2005 and its related International Studying Leadership Conference, now in its 20th year.

Keith's book list on understanding why we get the leaders we do

Keith Grint Why did Keith love this book?

Machiavelli is often despised as the man who promoted both authoritarian leaders and the notion that the ends justify the means, but this is to misunderstand the importance of the context within which he was writing: 16th century Florence – which was besieged by enemies on every side who proclaimed adherence to the Christian faith but acted as monsters. Machiavelli’s writing made two things clear to me. First, leaders and leadership cannot be understood if you abstract them from their context – when political morality is a contradiction in terms then leaders must be wary of sacrificing their followers for the sake of that same fallacious morality. Second, he lays out how dictators obtain and retain power – and in doing so establishes what we need to do to stop them or remove them. 

By Niccolò Machiavelli, Tim Parks (translator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is the world's most famous master plan for seizing and holding power.  Astonishing in its candor The Prince even today remains a disturbingly realistic and prophetic work on what it takes to be a prince . . . a king . . . a president.  When, in 1512, Machiavelli was removed from his post in his beloved Florence, he resolved to set down a treatise on leadership that was practical, not idealistic.  In The Prince he envisioned would be unencumbered by ordinary ethical and moral values; his prince would be man and beast, fox and lion.  Today, this small…


Book cover of Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History

Matt Qvortrup Author Of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

From my list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy.

Who am I?

"Why don’t they want to have their own country?” I asked this question as I was 12 years old and we were watching the results of the Quebec independence referendums coming in. The Quebecois nationalists had lost- and lost big. And I wanted to know why. I grew up in a political family but none of the adults were able to give me an answer. So, I began to do research on my own. Being a bit of an obsessive, my interest in referendums took me to Oxford University, and as a professor I have specialised in direct democracy. I have advised the US State Department and the British Foreign Office on referendums around the world – and written several books on democracy. 

Matt's book list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy

Matt Qvortrup Why did Matt love this book?

Immanuel Kant is often seen as a pure philosopher, one who was interested in abstract principles. He was that, but his essays on "Perpetual Peace" and especially his essay "Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Perspective" are literally the best things I have ever read, and have so much resonance for us today.

Democracies tend not to go to war as much as dictatorships because the people are likely to be the ones who are killed on the battlefield. In Kant’s time Frederick the Great was able to go to war whenever he wanted. Today, Vladimir Putin can go to war without asking anyone and the people, and Russian conscripts too – suffer the consequences. Kant’s experience of living in a militarised state governed by a single man is eerily relevant today. Reading this thinker tells as much about contemporary politics as it teaches us about 18th…

By Immanuel Kant, David L. Colclasure (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Immanuel Kant's views on politics, peace, and history have lost none of their relevance since their publication more than two centuries ago. This volume contains a comprehensive collection of Kant's writings on international relations theory and political philosophy, superbly translated and accompanied by stimulating essays.
Pauline Kleingeld provides a lucid introduction to the main themes of the volume, and three essays by distinguished contributors follow: Jeremy Waldron on Kant's theory of the state; Michael W. Doyle on the implications of Kant's political theory for his theory of international relations; and Allen W. Wood on Kant's philosophical approach to history and…


Book cover of Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought

Peter J. Verovšek Author Of Memory and the Future of Europe: Rupture and Integration in the Wake of Total War

From my list on memory and postwar Europe.

Who am I?

I am an international political and critical theorist interested in the way that key events and experiences from the past continue to affect politics in the present. I was born in the US but moved back to Slovenia when I was in high school, before returning to the states to attend Dartmouth College as an undergraduate, and Yale University for my doctoral studies in political science. This international, bi-continental background – as well as my own family’s history of migration following World War II – has fueled my interest in twentieth-century European history, collective memory and European integration. 

Peter's book list on memory and postwar Europe

Peter J. Verovšek Why did Peter love this book?

Hannah Arendt is the most important political thinker of the post-totalitarian moment. While her 1951 Origins of Totalitarianism is more well-known and became a bestseller again after the election of President Donald Trump, in this collection of essays she lays out her ideas about the way that the past helps us to locate ourselves in the present by imagining and reimagining our futures. This book was hugely influential for me during my graduate studies at Yale. Unlike so many political theorists, Arendt is also a wonderfully accessible and engaging writer.

By Hannah Arendt, Jerome Kohn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Between Past and Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Eichmann in Jerusalem and The Origins of Totalitarianism, “a book to think with through the political impasses and cultural confusions of our day” (Harper’s Magazine)
 
Hannah Arendt’s insightful observations of the modern world, based on a profound knowledge of the past, constitute an impassioned contribution to political philosophy. In Between Past and Future Arendt describes the perplexing crises modern society faces as a result of the loss of meaning of the traditional key words of politics: justice, reason, responsibility, virtue, and glory. Through a series of eight exercises, she shows how we can redistill the vital…


Book cover of Aristotle's Politics

Matt Qvortrup Author Of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

From my list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy.

Who am I?

"Why don’t they want to have their own country?” I asked this question as I was 12 years old and we were watching the results of the Quebec independence referendums coming in. The Quebecois nationalists had lost- and lost big. And I wanted to know why. I grew up in a political family but none of the adults were able to give me an answer. So, I began to do research on my own. Being a bit of an obsessive, my interest in referendums took me to Oxford University, and as a professor I have specialised in direct democracy. I have advised the US State Department and the British Foreign Office on referendums around the world – and written several books on democracy. 

Matt's book list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy

Matt Qvortrup Why did Matt love this book?

Reading Aristotle is easier than you might think. Even those who are not able to read him in the original Greek cannot fail to be enamoured by his enthusiasm. What is so fascinating about Aristotle’s Politika (in English normally translated as The Politics) is the way this enormously erudite man got carried away babbling and digressing in his lectures. Aristotle, simply, could not help but tell his students about a certain Hippodamus (“the son of Eryphon”). This 5th Century BC Athenian was, “the first man not engaged in politics to speak on the subject of the best Constitution,” and, according to Aristotle, this first philosopher of politics, was, “somewhat eccentric in his general mode of life owing to his desire for distinction [he] lived fussily, with a quantity of hair and expensive ornaments and a quantity of cheap clothes – not only in winter but also in the…

By Aristotle, Carnes Lord (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aristotle's Politics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the fundamental works of Western political thought, Aristotle's masterwork is the first systematic treatise on the science of politics. For almost three decades, Carnes Lord's justly acclaimed translation has served as the standard English edition. Widely regarded as the most faithful to both the original Greek and Aristotle's distinctive style, it is also written in clear, contemporary English. This new edition of the Politics retains and adds to Lord's already extensive notes, clarifying the flow of Aristotle's argument and identifying literary and historical references. A glossary defines key terms in Aristotle's philosophical-political vocabulary. Lord has made revisions to…


Book cover of The Community of Advantage: A Behavioural Economist's Defence of the Market

Vangelis Chiotis Author Of The Morality of Economic Behaviour: Economics as Ethics

From my list on economic morality.

Who am I?

Two self-interested people will try to outperform each other. One will win, the other will lose. If they instead cooperate, both will win a bit, and lose a bit. Is this preferable? I say yes, because in the long term, winning a bit many times, is better than winning a lot, once. Choosing short-term gain at the expense of long-term benefit is a waste of potential for societies and individuals. Traditional morality works, sometimes, in some cases. Rational morality can fill the gaps, and expand the circle of morality so that when higher ideals fail or become too difficult to follow, rationality can be about more than just short-term self-interest.

Vangelis' book list on economic morality

Vangelis Chiotis Why did Vangelis love this book?

The Community of Advantage is an excellent exposition of how moral philosophy informs and is informed by economics.

The title itself is taken from a political philosopher: John Stuart Mill. There is one caveat: Sugden speaks of behavioral economics, and as such, takes a different approach to rational agency than neoclassical economics.

Individual agency is not moral, but it is not assumed to be rational either. The book, and Sugden’s work as a whole, is of special relevance for two reasons: 1) It links morality with self-interest. 2) It uses society to argue for morality in self-interest.

By Robert Sugden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Community of Advantage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Community of Advantage asks how economists should do normative analysis. Normative analysis in economics has usually aimed at satisfying individuals' preferences. Its conclusions have supported a long- standing liberal tradition of economics that values economic freedom and views markets favourably. However, behavioural research shows that individuals' preferences, as revealed in choices, are often unstable, and vary according to contextual factors
that seem irrelevant for welfare. Robert Sugden proposes a reformulation of normative economics that is compatible with what is now known about the psychology of choice.

The growing consensus in favour of paternalism and 'nudging' is based on a…


Book cover of Four Essays on Liberty

James Fallon Author Of The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain

From my list on philosophies.

Who am I?

Philosophy is defined as “the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.” Put another way, it is not so much the study of things and phenomena, but the derivative question below the veneer of what things are. I am interested in everything, how everything works, but also why it, and all of nature, including the mind and eyelashes, exist in the first place. I can remember back to childhood always thinking like this. This involves grasping for knowledge of both the details and global contexts of everything, whether it’s biology, chemistry, religion, neuroscience, horticulture, violence, goodness, hockey, or even what Plato was trying to say.

James' book list on philosophies

James Fallon Why did James love this book?

I mention this book as a way to listen to some old hour-long video talks by the sage Isaiah Berlin. He did, in fact, hate to write, but he loved talking. After reading any of his several essays, go right to the meat. Which will give the political, philosophical How-to Guide to leading a Nazi, Marxist or Terrorist revolution. I give talks and podcasts on the biological psychiatry of such evils and he is my go-to guy.

By Isaiah Berlin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Four Essays on Liberty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The four essays are `Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century'; `Historical Inevitability', which the Economist described as `a magnificent assertion of the reality of human freedom, of the role of free choice in history'; `Two Concepts of Liberty', a ringing manifesto for pluralism and individual freedom; and `John Stuart Mill and the Ends of Life'. There is also a long and masterly introduction written specially for this collection, in which the author replies to his critics. This book is intended for students from undergraduate level upwards studying philosopohy, history, politics. Admirers of Isaiah Berlin's writings.


Book cover of The Ordinary Business of Life: A History of Economics from the Ancient World to the Twenty-First Century

Panayotis G. Michaelides Author Of History of Economic Ideas: From Adam Smith to Paul Krugman

From my list on the evolution of economics.

Who am I?

I am a Full Professor and Lab Director in Economics. My interest in this field began when I traveled abroad and observed the differences in prices, goods, and quality of life. In order to gain a deeper understanding, I decided to switch from my previous academic background in Engineering, Mathematics & Physics to Economics, Finance & Data Science. Today, I am dedicated to expanding my knowledge and sharing my insights through teaching, academic publications, and LinkedIn posts. According to the latest rankings, I am humbled to be among the top 3% most productive economists worldwide (IDEAS-RePec, 2023), as well as being ranked among the top 4% researchers in Financial Economics, and the top 5% in Econometrics (Researchgate, 2023).

Panayotis' book list on the evolution of economics

Panayotis G. Michaelides Why did Panayotis love this book?

I became well acquainted with Economics after my undergraduate studies, and found this book to be an excellent resource.

It begins with the ancient Greeks and culminates in the modern era. It elaborates upon crucial issues such as money, markets, prices, and production. What sets it apart from others is its focus on the evolution of economic ideas, rather than the economists themselves.

Backhouse's writing style is clear and accessible, and makes even complex concepts understandable. One thing I appreciate is that Backhouse demonstrates that no economic theory emerges "out of nowhere" as is often implied, rather it builds on its predecessors.

This book offers insights that have stayed with me long after reading, and I still refer to it for its depth of knowledge.

By Roger E. Backhouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ordinary Business of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A very clear, reliable and readable history of economic thought from the ancient world to the present day. From Homer to Marx to John Stuart Mill, Backhouse shows how to keep your Keynsians from your post-Keynsians and New Keynsians. A core book.


Book cover of A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow

David Schweickart Author Of After Capitalism

From my list on climate change and seeing it through new eyes.

Who am I?

I have a certain degree of scientific expertise deriving from the education leading to my Ph.D. in mathematics and a deep interest in ethical issues, which led to my pursuing a second Ph.D. in philosophy. I am passionate about the issue of climate change, because (among other reasons) I have four grandchildren who will be living in the new world that is being created now. As I often said to my students during my last few years of teaching, “You are living at the time when the most momentous event in human history is unfolding. Historians of the future—if there are any remaining—will write extensively about this period, about what happened and why, about what those of us alive today did or did not do.”

David's book list on climate change and seeing it through new eyes

David Schweickart Why did David love this book?

I read this book to stay true to my commitment, inspired by John Stuart Mill, to always make an effort to understand the strongest against your own convictions (a key reason for always including Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom in my political philosophy courses). Like most progressives in the 70s, I was part of the anti-nuclear movement, not just opposition to nuclear weapons, but to nuclear power as well. I did not expect this book to radically shift these commitments—but it did. Not the first one, but the second. I realized on reading this book that I had not thought seriously about these issues in decades. The issue of climate change was not on the table in those days, and I had not paid much attention to the development of nuclear power since then. The issue today is too urgent to ignore. Looking at the evidence presented in this book…

By Staffan A. Qvist, Joshua S. Goldstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Bright Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As climate change begins to take a serious toll on the planet--with much more damage yet to come--a solution to our warming problems is hiding in plain sight. We need to commit to de-carbonizing our economy, and do so immediately, but so far we have lacked the courage to really try.

Our fears of nuclear energy have grown irrationally large, even as our fears of climate change are irrationally small.

In this clear-sighted and compelling book, Joshua Goldstein and Steffan Qvist come bearing good news: a real solution, one that is fast, cheap, and provably works. Based on Sweden's success…


Book cover of The Mill on the Floss

Pamela Erens Author Of Middlemarch and the Imperfect Life: Bookmarked

From my list on George Eliot books to start with.

Who am I?

I’m a lifelong fan of George Eliot and other classic psychological novelists such as Tolstoy, Henry James, and Edith Wharton. I read their fiction over and over again. It deepens my understanding of the way people think and feel, how relationships and communities function, and what makes for a good life. Through these books I sort out my own muddled experiences.

Pamela's book list on George Eliot books to start with

Pamela Erens Why did Pamela love this book?

As someone occasionally made to feel I was “too much” as a child—too emotional, too smart, too odd—I’ve always been drawn to The Mill on the Floss’s temperamental and bewildered young protagonist, Maggie Tulliver. I’m moved by her attempt, as she grows older, to navigate relationships with three men who represent three different possible paths for her: her staid older brother; a gentle, intellectual soulmate; and an erotic tempter. One minute I’m hooked by the drama, the next I’m chuckling at the comic portraits of Maggie’s many colorful relatives.

By George Eliot,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mill on the Floss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With precise plotting underpinned by a wise understanding of human nature, George Eliot's most autobiographical novel gives a wonderful evocation of rural life and the complicated relationship between siblings.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition of The Mill on the Floss features an introduction by Professor Kathryn Hughes.

Maggie Tulliver and her brother Tom enjoy a rural childhood on the banks of the river Floss. But the approach of adulthood…


Book cover of Media Ethics and Global Justice in the Digital Age

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Author Of Confronting the Internet's Dark Side: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway

From my list on the internet's history, development, and challenges.

Who am I?

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, DPhil, St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, is Professor of Politics, Olof Palme Visiting Professor, Lund University, Founding Director of the Middle East Study Centre, University of Hull, and Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Raphael taught, inter alia, at Oxford (UK), Jerusalem, Haifa (Israel), UCLA, Johns Hopkins (USA), and Nirma University (India). With more than 300 publications, Raphael has published extensively in the field of political philosophy, including Liberal Democracy and the Limits of Tolerance; Challenges to Democracy; The Right to Die with Dignity; The Scope of Tolerance; Confronting the Internet's Dark Side; Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism, and The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab.

Raphael's book list on the internet's history, development, and challenges

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Why did Raphael love this book?

For me, every book by Clifford (Cliff) Christians is always a celebration. I met Cliff in 1996 and we kept in touch ever since then. Christians has contributed to the field of media ethics more than any other scholar I know. In this book, Christians explores the fundamentals of ethics and justice in moral theory. In addition to “the usual suspects,” i.e., Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Rene Descartes, John Stuart Mill, Auguste Comte, and Max Weber, Christians explores modern liberal philosophy, feminist philosophy, African philosophy, Latin American liberation theology, Confucianism, and Islam. He does this in his usual dazzling and most comprehensive style, exhibiting wide knowledge of the literature and brilliant analysis that adds layers upon layers of sharp insights. As in his previous books, Christians invokes an ethics of care and humanity in order to alleviate poverty, homelessness, and unemployment, issues that trouble Western and non-Western societies, albeit in different…

By Clifford G. Christians,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Media Ethics and Global Justice in the Digital Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Today's digital revolution is a worldwide phenomenon, with profound and often differential implications for communities around the world and their relationships to one another. This book presents a new, explicitly international theory of media ethics, incorporating non-Western perspectives and drawing deeply on both moral philosophy and the philosophy of technology. Clifford Christians develops an ethics grounded in three principles - truth, human dignity, and non-violence - and shows how these principles can be applied across a wide range of cases and domains. The book is a guide for media professionals, scholars, and educators who are concerned with the global ramifications…


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