100 books like Principles For A Free Society

By Richard A. Epstein,

Here are 100 books that Principles For A Free Society fans have personally recommended if you like Principles For A Free Society. 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 Road to Serfdom

Andrew Koppelman Author Of Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed

From my list on libertarian philosophy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in human freedom, and both intrigued and cautious about the path offered by the libertarians. In my book, I finally worked out for my own benefit what is alive and what is dead in their ideals – and the various flavors in which those ideals are available. They have important insights, but too much of what they are selling is snake oil. Until now there hasn’t been any critical introduction to libertarianism for the general reader. This book aims to supply that.

Andrew's book list on libertarian philosophy

Andrew Koppelman Why did Andrew love this book?

The classic exposition of the idea that central governmental economic planning will inevitably be wasteful and tyrannical. Hayek today is caricatured by both right and left, but he is not the minimal state absolutist that both sides often take him to be. Hayek thinks that the way to attack poverty is not redistribution – there isn’t yet enough wealth in existence to give everyone a decent life – but the opportunities created by free markets. Another impetus for my own work was reading this book and discovering that I agreed with him much more than I had expected to. 

By F. A. Hayek, Bruce Caldwell (editor),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Road to Serfdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, "The Road to Serfdom" has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944 - when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program - "The Road to Serfdom" was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but…


Book cover of Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World

Jonathan Rothwell Author Of A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society

From my list on why some people tend to be richer or poorer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Inequality and fairness are basic issues in human conflict and cooperation that have long fascinated me. Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, I was confronted with the extreme racial segregation of schools and neighborhoods. My Catholic upbringing taught me to cherish the cardinal virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and temperance, and my education in political economy taught me that markets can fairly and efficiently allocate resources, when legal power is evenly shared. My formal education culminated in a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from Princeton University, which led me to my current roles: Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Principal Economist at Gallup. I care deeply about the social conditions that create cooperation and conflict.

Jonathan's book list on why some people tend to be richer or poorer

Jonathan Rothwell Why did Jonathan love this book?

Can ideas change the world? How does belief in political equality—the idea that everyone deserves basic unbridgeable liberties—affect innovation and economic development?

Dierdre McCloskey—one of the most creative and interesting economists alive—takes on these topics and much more in her characteristically witty, fast-paced style. She loves describing and refuting bad ideas—or even ideas widely regarded as brilliant—in an effort to go deeper into the forces that lifted humans out of poverty and sustain innovation to this day.

By Deirdre Nansen McCloskey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bourgeois Equality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There's little doubt that most humans today are better off than their forebears. Stunningly so, the economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey argues in the concluding volume of her trilogy celebrating the oft-derided virtues of the bourgeoisie. The poorest of humanity, McCloskey shows, will soon be joining the comparative riches of Japan and Sweden and Botswana. Why? Most economists from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty say the Great Enrichment since 1800 came from accumulated capital. McCloskey disagrees, fiercely. "Our riches," she argues, "were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling…


Book cover of Free Market Fairness

Andrew Koppelman Author Of Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed

From my list on libertarian philosophy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in human freedom, and both intrigued and cautious about the path offered by the libertarians. In my book, I finally worked out for my own benefit what is alive and what is dead in their ideals – and the various flavors in which those ideals are available. They have important insights, but too much of what they are selling is snake oil. Until now there hasn’t been any critical introduction to libertarianism for the general reader. This book aims to supply that.

Andrew's book list on libertarian philosophy

Andrew Koppelman Why did Andrew love this book?

Tomasi offers a new synthesis of Rawlsian high liberalism and market-oriented libertarianism, which he calls "market democracy." It treats capitalistic economic freedoms as crucial elements of liberty, but demands that institutions be designed so that their benefits are shared by the least fortunate citizens. His central focus is the value of entrepreneurial activity as a moral ideal. I have a lot of disagreements with this book, but without its smart provocations I might not have written my own.

By John Tomasi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Free Market Fairness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can libertarians care about social justice? In Free Market Fairness, John Tomasi argues that they can and should. Drawing simultaneously on moral insights from defenders of economic liberty such as F. A. Hayek and advocates of social justice such as John Rawls, Tomasi presents a new theory of liberal justice. This theory, free market fairness, is committed to both limited government and the material betterment of the poor. Unlike traditional libertarians, Tomasi argues that property rights are best defended not in terms of self-ownership or economic efficiency but as requirements of democratic legitimacy. At the same time, he encourages egalitarians…


Book cover of Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement

Andrew Koppelman Author Of Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed

From my list on libertarian philosophy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in human freedom, and both intrigued and cautious about the path offered by the libertarians. In my book, I finally worked out for my own benefit what is alive and what is dead in their ideals – and the various flavors in which those ideals are available. They have important insights, but too much of what they are selling is snake oil. Until now there hasn’t been any critical introduction to libertarianism for the general reader. This book aims to supply that.

Andrew's book list on libertarian philosophy

Andrew Koppelman Why did Andrew love this book?

This is the indispensable book if you want to know what libertarianism is and where it came from. It is filled with more entertaining eccentrics than a Dickens novel. My book focuses on philosophical arguments for a minimal state, but I couldn’t get very deep into the historical background: who was making those arguments and what moved them to do it. One of the pleasures of intellectual history is encountering minds that are weird and surprising (not necessarily in a bad way), and Doherty offers a lot of them.

By Brian Doherty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Radicals for Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On Wall Street, in the culture of high tech, in American government: Libertarianism-the simple but radical idea that the only purpose of government is to protect its citizens and their property against direct violence and threat-has become an extremely influential strain of thought. But while many books talk about libertarian ideas, none until now has explored the history of this uniquely American movement-where and who it came from, how it evolved, and what impact it has had on our country. In this revelatory book, based on original research and interviews with more than 100 key sources, Brian Doherty traces the…


Book cover of On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint

Friederike Otto Author Of Angry Weather: Heat Waves, Floods, Storms, and the New Science of Climate Change

From my list on starting to think about the much abused idea of freedom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a physicist who ended up doing their PhD in philosophy, because the “so what” question for me always was more interesting to answer than finding out how the physical world is changing. Working as a climate scientist I see how climate change and extreme weather devastate livelihoods on a daily basis. It makes me very aware I know nothing, but also that the philosophical and humanist ideas we build our societies upon are much more important to solve the climate crisis than physics and technology. One of the most important ones is to reclaim freedom and actually allow people to live good lives.

Friederike's book list on starting to think about the much abused idea of freedom

Friederike Otto Why did Friederike love this book?

This is the most obvious book on this list. If you do read one book about climate change, make it this one.

It’s mainly not about climate change at all, but about the difficult balance between protecting people and freedom of expression. If we want a society that makes life better for all, and I do want that, we need to get this balance right.

It’s hard, as Nelson shows, but also incredibly exciting to identify freedom, in art, in sex, in drugs and in climate. This list isn’t an accident. 

By Maggie Nelson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What can freedom really mean?

'One of the most electrifying writers at work in America today, among the sharpest and most supple thinkers of her generation' OLIVIA LAING

In this invigorating, essential book, Maggie Nelson explores how we might think, experience or talk about freedom. Drawing on pop culture, theory and real life, she follows freedom - with all its complexities - through four realms: art, sex, drugs and climate. On Freedom offers a bold new perspective on the challenging times in which we live.

'Tremendously energising' Guardian

'This provocative meditation...shows Nelson at her most original and brilliant' New York…


Book cover of Ugly Freedoms

Matthew Dallek Author Of Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right

From my list on the far-right and its influence in US politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and a professor of political management at George Washington University, and I became interested in the John Birch Society when I encountered the group while writing my first book, on Ronald Reagan's 1966 California governor's campaign. I'm also fascinated by debates about political extremism in modern America including such questions as: how does the culture define extremism in a given moment? How does the meaning of extremism shift over time? And how do extremists sometimes become mainstream within the context of American politics? These were some of the puzzles that motivated me to write Birchers

Matthew's book list on the far-right and its influence in US politics

Matthew Dallek Why did Matthew love this book?

“There is no higher value than freedom in American politics and political thought,” political theorist Elisabeth Anker observes in her excellent book Ugly Freedoms.

Anker sifts art, poems, novels, speeches, and other forms of cultural expression to underscore how the idea of “freedom” in the US has served to advance institutions and “ugly” causes ranging from slavery to torture and racial domination.

The book gives you the context you need to understand how the far-right uses “freedom” to justify book bans, the war on transgender youth, and policing of school curriculum. I love the blend of history, theory, culture, and politics.  

By Elisabeth R. Anker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ugly Freedoms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Ugly Freedoms Elisabeth R. Anker reckons with the complex legacy of freedom offered by liberal American democracy, outlining how the emphasis of individual liberty has always been entangled with white supremacy, settler colonialism, climate destruction, economic exploitation, and patriarchy. These "ugly freedoms" legitimate the right to exploit and subjugate others. At the same time, Anker locates an unexpected second type of ugly freedom in practices and situations often dismissed as demeaning, offensive, gross, and ineffectual but that provide sources of emancipatory potential. She analyzes both types of ugly freedom at work in a number of texts and locations, from…


Book cover of Why Privacy Matters

Daniel J. Solove Author Of Understanding Privacy

From my list on about privacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in privacy in the mid-1990s. When I began my career as a law professor, I thought I might write one or two papers about privacy and then move on to other issues involving law and technology. But like Alice in Wonderland, I found an amazing world on the other side of the rabbit hole. I’ve written more than 10 books and 50 articles about privacy, and I have a list of topics and ideas that will keep me writing many more in the future. I recently wrote a children’s book about privacy called The Eyemonger, which is designed to spark a child’s thoughts and understanding about privacy.

Daniel's book list on about privacy

Daniel J. Solove Why did Daniel love this book?

I had a hard time choosing which book by Richards to include, as his earlier book, Intellectual Privacy, is a superb discussion about how privacy is essential for our expression and consumption of ideas. In Why Privacy Matters, Richards broadens his focus to discuss other reasons why privacy is important. He debunks common myths, such as privacy is dying or privacy is about creepiness. In an eloquent and clear way, Richards explains why privacy matters for our identity, freedom, and protection. This book powerfully shows that how we think about privacy is essential to effectively safeguarding it. Richards writes in an engaging and accessible way, but his book has tremendous depth and insight. 

By Neil Richards,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Privacy Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A much-needed corrective on what privacy is, why it matters, and how we can protect in an age when so many believe that the concept is dead.

Everywhere we look, companies and governments are spying on us-seeking information about us and everyone we know. Ad networks monitor our web-surfing to send us "more relevant" ads. The NSA screens our communications for signs of radicalism. Schools track students' emails to stop school shootings. Cameras guard every street corner and traffic light, and drones fly in our skies. Databases of human information are assembled for purposes of "training" artificial intelligence programs designed…


Book cover of Liberty: Rethinking an Imperiled Ideal

John G. Stackhouse Jr. Author Of Woke: An Evangelical Guide to Postmodernism, Liberalism, Critical Race Theory, and More

From my list on overlooked books on the culture wars.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent my life in North American higher education as a student and professor, so I have experienced many of the cultural shifts associated with “woke” culture. These books share the virtues of deep scholarship, sensible advice, and sprightly writing—virtues I have tried to emulate in my own writing. I have tried hard over my career (I’m in my 60s now) to be open and fair toward even the most diverse of my students and colleagues. These books have helped me do so—and I hope they have improved my teaching and writing along the way. 

John's book list on overlooked books on the culture wars

John G. Stackhouse Jr. Why did John love this book?

Political scientists don’t always write with verve and insight, but the late Glenn Tinder did. This book takes the ever-challenging theme of liberty and shows me how to understand it as more than an Independence Day slogan.

Tinder provoked me to consider how my freedom should be about more than me but used instead to assist others less resourced than I am. I found this book a refreshing change from the selfish agenda of so many authors writing about liberty and freedom without also considering responsibility and community.

By Glenn Tinder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Liberty is a dangerous concept. It's sure to be misused and, if left unchecked, will likely bring not social harmony and happiness but their opposites. Nonetheless, liberty is absolutely necessary: without it there can be no authentic community. People are not free to do the right thing unless they are free to do the wrong thing; if they can't be wrong, they can't be right.
Thus does Glenn Tinder argue emphatically for "negative liberty" - the liberty that wants primarily to be left alone, with the authorities interfering as little as possible in the lives of people - and against…


Book cover of Freedom: Volume I: Freedom In The Making Of Western Culture

Paul Anthony Cartledge Author Of Democracy: A Life

From my list on freedom and freedom of speech in Ancient Greece.

Why am I passionate about this?

My Democracy book was the summation of my views to that date (2018) on the strengths and weaknesses of democracy as a political system, in both its ancient and its modern forms. I’d been an activist and advocate of democracy since my undergraduate days (at Oxford, in the late 1960s – interesting times!). As I was writing the book the world of democracy suddenly took unexpected, and to me undesirable turns, not least in the United States and my own U.K. An entire issue of an English-language Italian political-philosophy journal was devoted to the book in 2019, and in 2021 a Companion to the reception of Athenian democracy in subsequent epochs was dedicated to me.

Paul's book list on freedom and freedom of speech in Ancient Greece

Paul Anthony Cartledge Why did Paul love this book?

I have met Orlando only once, alas, at the university where he has taught for many years (Harvard), he is both a novelist and historical sociologist. For a Black scholar originating from Kingston, Jamaica, to write approvingly of forms of freedom that he believes ‘made’ Western culture, when that culture arguably in both its ancient Greek and its modern Euro-American modes was also based on slavery, is in itself very remarkable. This is the first of a two-volume study.

By Orlando Patterson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This magisterial work traces the history of our most cherished value. Patterson links the birth of freedom in primitive societies with the institution of slavery, and traces the evolution of three forms of freedom in the West from antiquity through the Middle Ages.


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.


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