A Brief History of Liberty


Jason Brennan, David Schmidtz

Liberty is a lofty concept. But what exactly is liberty? What kind of value does it have? What institutions best promote and protect forms of liberty worth wanting? Using a fusion of philosophical, social scientific, and historical methods, A Brief History of Liberty offers a succinct survey of pivotal moments in the evolution of freedom, drawing on key historical figures from John Knox and Martin Luther to Karl Marx and Adam Smith to Roger Williams and Thurgood Marshall. The authors examine how past (if incomplete) successes in the struggle for liberty lead to liberty's "last frontier": internal psychological obstacles to our being as autonomous as we would like to be. Readers are encouraged to reflect on their own concepts of personal freedom – what it is, where it comes from, why they have it, and what it has done for them. Stimulating and thought-provoking, A Brief History of Liberty offers readers a philosophically informed portrait of the elusive nature of one of our most cherished ideals.

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