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


Cruz Makes Play for Libertarian Voters. Is Anybody Game?

By David Boaz. Reason. February 8, 2016.

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By David Boaz. USA Today. February 3, 2016.

My Love Affair with Reading

By Nat Hentoff. December 2, 2015.

Cato Studies

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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.

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


Hayek and the Scots on Liberty

Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.. The Journal of Private Enterprise. Vol. 30. No. 2. Summer 2015.

On the Origins of the Modern Libertarian Legal Movement

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


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

Cato Reviews & Journals

The Evolution of Everything

Policy Report. January/February 2016.

Video Guides to Libertarianism

Policy Report. January/February 2016.

Brutish Markets or Brutish Government?

David Boaz. Policy Report. January/February 2016.


The Libertarian State of the Union

Featuring Ilya Shapiro, Tim Lynch, Alex Nowrasteh, Daniel J. Mitchell, & Peter Russo. January 29, 2016. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy

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Debate: Libertarianism vs. Conservatism

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

Downsizing the Federal Government

Five Types of Spending

By Chris Edwards. March 2014.