Libertarianism is the belief that each person has the right to live his life as he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property. In the libertarian view, voluntary agreement is the gold standard of human relationships. If there is no good reason to forbid something (a good reason being that it violates the rights of others), it should be allowed. Force should be reserved for prohibiting or punishing those who themselves use force, such as murderers, robbers, rapists, kidnappers, and defrauders (who practice a kind of theft). Most people live their own lives by that code of ethics. Libertarians believe that that code should be applied consistently, even to the actions of governments, which should be restricted to protecting people from violations of their rights. Governments should not use their powers to censor speech, conscript the young, prohibit voluntary exchanges, steal or “redistribute” property, or interfere in the lives of individuals who are otherwise minding their own business.

More on Libertarianism

Commentary

The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder, One of America’s First Libertarians

By David Boaz. TIME. May 9, 2015.

Happy Birthday, F. A. Hayek

By David Boaz. TownHall.com. May 8, 2015.

Can Rand Paul Turn America into Less of a Global Busybody?

By David Boaz. National Review (Online). May 6, 2015.

Cato Studies

Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress

By Cato Institute. White Paper. February 4, 2015.

Libertarianism and Federalism

By Ilya Somin. Policy Analysis No. 751. June 30, 2014.

Libertarian Roots of the Tea Party

By David Kirby and Emily Ekins. Policy Analysis No. 705. August 6, 2012.

Articles

On the Origins of the Modern Libertarian Legal Movement

Roger Pilon. Chapman Law Review. Vol. 16. No. 2. 2013.

Introduction

Roger Pilon. American Conservative Thought in the Twentieth Century. 2011.

A Faint-Hearted Libertarian at Best: The Sweet Mystery of Anthony Kennedy

Ilya Shapiro. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. Vol. 33. No. 1. Winter 2011.

Cato Reviews & Journals

To Congress: First, Do No Harm

Policy Report. May/June 2015.

Peter Goettler Takes the Helm

Policy Report. May/June 2015.

On Individualism

Policy Report. May/June 2015.

Events

The Conservatarian Manifesto

Featuring Trevor Burrus and Ilya Shapiro. July 14, 2015. Book Forum.

Toward a Libertarian Foreign Policy

Featuring Justin Logan and Christopher A. Preble. May 7, 2015. Capitol Hill Briefing.

The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom

Featuring David Boaz and Caleb O. Brown. March 19, 2015. Sponsor E-Briefing.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Five Types of Spending

By Chris Edwards. March 2014.