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

Libertarians Have Long Led the Way on Marriage

By David Boaz. Advocate.com. June 25, 2015.

It’s Time to Reclaim Our Liberty

By Roger Pilon. Philadelphia Inquirer. June 14, 2015.

‘Little House on the Prairie’s’ Contribution to Freedom

By Jason Kuznicki. The Federalist. June 10, 2015.

Cato Studies

State Capitalism vs. Private Enterprise

By Donghua Chen, Dequan Jiang, Alexander Ljungqvist, Haitian Lu, & Mingming Zhou. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 28. June 17, 2015.

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.

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

The Future Legacy of Public Choice

Zachary Gochenour. Regulation. Summer 2015.

Does Freedom Need ‘Bootleggers’?

Dwight R. Lee. Regulation. Summer 2015.

To Congress: First, Do No Harm

Policy Report. May/June 2015.

Events

Debate: Libertarianism vs. Conservatism

Featuring Mark Houser and Cato Institute. July 23, 2015. Student Forum.

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.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Five Types of Spending

By Chris Edwards. March 2014.